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Internet and Computer Access

Public Internet Stations | Wireless Access | Location-specific Information | Community Internet Locations

Reserve a Computer

Click here to reserve a computer. You'll need your library card number and your pin.

Public Internet Stations

How many computers do you have available for the public to use?

We offer over 100 computers for internet access throughout all our libraries, but the number varies at each library.

Do you have time limits for computer use?

Yes. Time limits are per person per day, and vary by location. You may only use your own card to log on.

The libraries using MyPC software have agreed to an overall limit of 120 minutes per day. You may visit multiple libraries in one day, but may only use 2 hours total per day on machines with the Library Online signup system.

May I reserve a specific computer?

You may reserve a computer by calling the location or reserving a computer online for today, tomorrow, or the next day. You may choose a specific computer, or the first available computer.

What if I'm late for my reservation?

Your reservation will be held for ten minutes. If you do not log in to your computer within ten minutes of your reservation time, you will lose your reservation and those ten minutes will be deducted from your total allotted computer time for the day.

You can have 4 'no shows' in 14 days with no penalty, other than the loss of grace period minutes. If you actually use a computer after 2 no shows, you’ll get a warning message about the fact that you have no shows accumulating. If you do have 5 no shows in 14 days, you won’t be able to use the computer until you are down to 4 or less in a 14 day period.

At libraries where we allow customers to combine two 1 hour sessions into a solid two hour session, a 'no show' for a two hour session counts as 2 no shows. If you have a reservation, the time allotted to you that day starts when your reservation starts. So, if you have a 1 pm-1:30 pm reservation, but don't get logged in until 1:08 pm, it's as if you used those 8 minutes. Your session will be 22 minutes long.

May I print from the computers?

Yes. All libraries offer access to a black-and-white photocopier and a black-and-white laser printer. Black-and-white photocopies or printed pages are $.10 per page, even if you bring your own paper.

Do you have color printing?

You can print in color at all Madison Public Library locations. There is a $.50 per page charge, even if you bring your own paper.

How do I save my work?

You may save to or print from a USB flash drive on all public Internet computers. You can also save to an online cloud storage platform such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft's OneDrive, Apple's iCloud, and many others. Please note that nothing gets saved permanently to the computer as it erases all documents each time it restarts.

May I check my email?

Yes, as long as you have a web-based email account. The most common free providers are Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail.

Do you offer help or training with specific software?

Our librarians can often provide brief assistance with common programs or basic Internet functions. We also offer a wide range of books, eBooks, online help, and tutorials. Some libraries offer one-on-one instruction tailored to your needs. See location-specific information to find out more.

What are my rights as computer user?

You have the right to unmonitored use, providing you comply with the library's Guidelines for Use of Computers and Computer Networks Policy and Behavior Policy. Electronic sign up records are kept for ten days before discarding. For more information about customer privacy, see our information sheet on the USA Patriot Act and Madison Public Library Records.

Wireless Access

How do I access the wireless network?

All locations provide free access to an unsecured wireless network.

I have the right software and hardware and the wireless network isn't coming up. I clicked on my wireless icon, but nothing's happening. What now?

Wait at least five minutes for your machine to finish booting up. If there is still no sign of our network, try moving closer to the wireless access point. Ask the librarian where it is, if necessary. Other things to check:

  • If you have a wireless on/off toggle key (usually one of the function keys), make sure it is on.
  • Make sure your wireless card is inserted.
  • Check that the network settings for your card are set to obtain an IP address automatically.
  • Try to stop/start the card or reboot your computer.

I just can't make my machine work on your network. Is there anywhere else I can go?

Other wireless hotspots in Madison and Wisconsin can be found on the Wi-Fi FreeSpot Directory or find out about coverage in the downtown area at MADCity Broadband (there's a fee). UW-Madison also offers wireless access to UW-Madison students, faculty, staff and guests.

My battery is running low-where can I plug in?

Please charge your battery before coming to the library, as we can't guarantee there will be an outlet available for you. Check with your location for more information.

Do you have headphones I can use?

We only have headphones for use with Madison Public Library's own machines. If you plan to listen to audio on your device, you must use your own headphones.

How secure is the network?

People with the right software using their own laptop in the library may be able to capture your keystrokes. Please be aware of this, and consider whether you want to use your laptop for critical personal information. Refer to your personal computer's documentation for information about taking protective measures when using an unsecured wireless network.

The network connection went down and my document was lost. What can I do?

There may be times when the network goes down unexpectedly. We suggest saving your work often to prevent the loss of your work. The library assumes no responsibility for your equipment, settings, data, or files.

Can I print from my laptop to the library's printer?

We are currently unable to offer wireless printing.

What are my rights as a computer user?

You have the right to unmonitored use, providing you comply with the library's Internet Use Policy and Behavior Policy. Electronic sign up records are kept for ten days before discarding. For more information about customer privacy, see our information sheet on the USA Patriot Act and Madison Public Library Records.

Location-specific Information

Central Library | Alicia Ashman Library | Goodman South Madison Library | Hawthorne Library | Lakeview Library | Meadowridge Library | Monroe Street Library | Pinney Library | Sequoya Library