Residents and tourists gather outside daily for access
The George Town Public Library in Grand Cayman has become an Internet hot-spot where dozens of people gather every day for wireless Internet access to the World Wide Web.
The practice, though not overtly promoted by the Public Library, has not been restricted either. At the moment, people accessing wireless Internet from outside must go inside the library in order to get a password. However, due to restrictions in the building code, the benches only seat about six people. This means that the vast amount of individuals using the resource are seated on the ground.
“It wasn’t necessarily planned and has kind of developed on its own, as people have realised that they can access the Internet just outside,” explained the Library’s Director K.C. Williams. “We don’t have a particular position, but if it’s a service that the public needs, we are happy to accommodate.”
There are plans to modify the old library building, which is located to the front of what now serves as the Public Library into a space for people to use when funding become available. This would include both Internet access and a cafe.
Mrs. Williams noted, “Traditionally, public libraries have spaces where people meet. These are usually referred to as information commons. Typically it’s a place where people can have a drink and a chat and it’s like a coffee shop atmosphere. It’s how people interact with information and technology now.”
More than 90,000 people visit the George Town Public Library each year. This number consists of individuals borrowing books, people seeking Internet access and those seeking study space or reference support and/or assistance with forms and resumes.
In addition to one-on-one support, “Many people come for a quiet space, support or interaction. Libraries are not about books as much as they are about people nowadays,” Mrs. Williams said.
She added that “the library is a wonderful resource and we would like to see more people using it.”
Once funding and staff were available for the old Public Library building to become an information commons, the facility will be furnished and used as a multipurpose room.
There are six public libraries in the Cayman Islands, including one in Cayman Brac, all of which offer wireless Internet access.