Saturday, March 04, 2006

Chicago Library's computers are absymal

I love the Chicago Public Library. It's fantastic. Where else can you get books, magazines, videos, and free passes to the museums but at the library? Most of the librarians are wonderful people who value knowledge. Some of them even like people.

The computers are another story.

The library catalogs are difficult to use, slow, and have incomplete, inaccurate, or erroneous records. The public use computers have (from what I can tell) a crippled version of the most insecure and buggy browser ever foisted upon the computing population: Internet Explorer 5.

Then there's the wi-fi. It's a great service to the public but it's completely failing in execution. The wif-fi is supposed to be available anywhere in the libraries, but in every library I've been to the wi-fi only works in one little area. It can take several minutes for the "web authentication" to work. The library staffs say they're forbidden to reboot the routers - a process that cures many networking ills and is as simple as unplugging and pluggin back in an electric cord. They say they report patron problems and that the IT people claim it's the patrons' computers. Hah! They've given me the phone number and the IT people never return phone calls. If you catch one in the library they claim the wi-fi works.

The Chicago Public Library needs to bring in an outside auditor for its IT people because they obviously can't be trusted to honestly assess the job they're doing. It stinks.

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