Library patrons can now enjoy faster wireless internet connections at the Berkshire Athenaeum, thanks to efforts of local businesses Cornerstone Telephone Company and CompuWorks. Increased usage had limited connection speeds and increased frustrations, but a renewed commitment to the community has resolved such problems. Patrons can simply connect to the “Berkshire Athenaeum” network and obtain unlimited access to the web. The wireless access is available to all visitors free of charge, courtesy of Cornerstone Telephone Company.
“Upgrading services can prove quite a challenge, particularly when we are faced with reduced budgets,” said Alex Reczkowski, supervisor of technical services at the Athenaeum. “We investigated various options for increasing the speed of the wi-fi network and found them all cost-prohibitive. Luckily, we have a supportive community dedicated to the library and its patrons.”
The Athenaeum first began offering free wireless internet access in 2008 as part of renovations to the reference and local history departments. Richmond Networx (now part of CornerStone Telephone Company) worked with CompuWorks to install a new internet connection and wireless access points. The next year, another access point was added to the network to improve signal coverage and strength on the second floor. Since then, use of the wi-fi network has grown to more than 1,000 users per month.
During the period since wi-fi inception at the Athenaeum, internet use has grown so that nearly 80% of the population now spends time online. The explosion in popularity of streaming media, social networking, and, more recently, the plethora of apps available, has demanded more and more of our networks. In the fall of 2011, library patrons began abandoning the wireless network, as high bandwidth demand slowed wireless connections to a crawl. In response, Cornerstone Telephone Company upgraded its generous donation to improve average download speeds as much as thirty times. Upgrades to the network were completed on Friday, January 6, 2012 by technicians from Cornerstone and CompuWorks, and patrons have been enjoying the improved wi-fi access since.