Internet Access and Public Computers
Through the generous support of the nonprofit corporation, Austin Free-Net, grants from the Texas Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund Board and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the citizens of Austin, the Austin Public Library provides free access to the Internet at every location. Some computers may be limited to use by certain age groups. We provide the means for customers of all ages to access the Internet at all of our locations. Please ask your librarian for details.
Creating an Account
All Internet users must understand and agree to comply with all the conditions of the Austin Public Library's Acceptable Use Policy for Public Use Workstations. To use an Internet workstation, customers must show a Library Card or photo ID to the staff at the circulation desk in any branch or to the staff at an information desk at the Faulk Central Library. The staff will register a LOGON ID for customers to use every time they use an Austin Public Library public computer.
Each user is given 120 minutes of computer use per day system-wide. Customers may sign in for 30 minutes of use at a time at most locations. Faulk Central allows one hour. Session limits vary from location to location according to the general demand for workstations. Some branches have as few as four workstations while others have as many as 25. The Faulk Central Library has 52 workstations, plus 10 more in Youth Services. Faulk Central has 5 work/study computers that have 2-hour sessions. Customers can make reservations for the current day using a Pharos reservation system at the library. Reservations cannot be made over the phone or online.
Files may be accessed only through applications already installed on Library computers. Users may not change the configuration of any of the software or hardware on these computers. Flash drives, cds, and diskettes are allowed. Faulk Central has two scanners connected to computers.
Each workstation has been set up with Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 and the plug-in software listed below:
Public computers at the Austin Public Library have JAWS software to navigate through pages using audio. Please note that Library staff is not able to offer JAWS training or instruction. The public computers also have Magic, a screen magnifier. Customers need to log on to the adaptive image to use Jaws and Magic.
The Faulk Central Library has a computer set up with a scanner and Kurzweil 10.01 software to have text converted to speech. A stand-alone Kurzweil Reading Edge reading machine is available at the Faulk Central Library and at the Austin History Center.
Magnifying equipment is available at the Faulk Central Library.
Printers are networked to the public computers allowing the user to print out Web pages and other documents as needed. The fee is $.20 per side for each black and white printout. Print cards are being phased out at all Library locations. You can pay at the Library checkout desk for your prints. Printing is not available using the Library's wireless connection. Email a file to yourself or save to a disk, and then use one of the Library’s public Internet computers to send your print job.
All Austin Public library locations have black and white copy machines. Copies are $.20 per page. Most machines accept bills and will provide change.
The downtown library at 800 Guadalupe has two scanners free to the public. You only need a photo ID. Come to the 2nd-floor reference desk and we'll set you up with a computer logon number. The scanners are on the same floor.
The Austin Public Library also offers free wireless Internet access at every location. To use the wireless service, users need to install an 802.11-compliant wireless networking card in their laptop or PDA and bring it to any library location.
Adults may check out laptops at the Ruiz Branch and Carver Branch for use within the library. Laptops check out for two hours with a $20.00 per hour overdue fee if they are returned late.
To use a laptop:
- You must have had an Austin Public Library Adult Card issued at least two months previously.
- You must show a current photo ID that matches the photo ID number on your library account.
- Your library card account can't be expired, can't have fines over $10, and can't have overdue checkouts.
You must sign a Laptop User Agreement form at the library location.
Teens (ages 10 through 17) can apply for a Connected Youth Teen card. With parental permission, this card will also allow teens to check out laptops for two hours per day. Talk to a Teen Services Librarian at any of our 9 Connected Youth laptop sites.
Other Free Internet Access Locations
- Austin Free-Net Public Access Locations: The Austin Free-Net DeWitty Center Labs are located at 2209 Rosewood Avenue on bus route 2. See all locations with hours of operation for Free-Net locations. Most of the locations offer access for special populations only. Please contact the location before visiting.
- University of Texas Libraries: Allow guest access to computers. Users must present a valid government-issued photo ID to request temporary access. Please see the Computer and Network Use Policy for details.
The Library provides a variety of free computer classes. The full schedule is available on our Events Calendar. Click the name of the class to see the class description. Classes do not require any advanced registration unless otherwise noted in the description. Please give us a call at 974-7400 if you have any questions.
See our Computer Training Information Guide for a list of other agencies that provide classes.