Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do You Charge Tourists to Use Your Computers?

Six bucks and hour
Six bucks and hour,
originally uploaded by travelinlibrarian.
This picture has caused a lot of conversation in the biblioblogsphere this afternoon. I cannot imagine a public library being this unfriendly to outsiders, but apparently it happens. What about you? Do you charge to use your computers if the person is not a resident?


  1. If you don't charge for a library card to non-residents, then it doesn't make sense to charge for the computers. I don't think I have ever been in a library that did this, although I have been in libraries where non-residents were not able to use the computers at all. So which is better? No access or pay for access?

  2. I think that we need to think about the overall impression we give when we are not "user-friendly". A tourist who is charged for using the library computer or denied access will probably translate that bad will to ALL libraries. This negative experience will taint the reputation of all libraries, not just the library that charged. Is it really worth the $6 for the ill will charging can cause? And how can we say that we are open, democratizing institutions when we discriminate based on residence?

    You could also make the case that the library is doing its community a disservice. The economy of my town is based on tourism. It is in everyone's best interest in my town to make sure that our visitors have a pleasant time here and return often. My library not only provides computers free of charge to everyone, we have free wireless and have received favorable comments about this from people passing through.