How do I reserve a computer in the San Francisco Public Libraries?

Reset Rating: B+ (12/15)

By: Katie Short

Link: http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=2000003001

Reset Rating:  How do I reserve a computer in the San Francisco Public LibrariesThe San Francisco Public Library has many public services one can reserve online, excluding the single, public-use typewriter located in the typewriter room on the 5th floor of the Main Library.

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As more and more government services become available online, public institutions like libraries are the go-to for bridging the digital divide, providing computers to those who maybe are without. But are these services the equivalent of a digital divide rope bridge or our reliable Golden Gate? (At the very least, they are merely Band-Aids until Universal Access is implemented.)

Each library-card-bearing resident is granted an hour of library computer use per day, and keep in mind: reservations are held for a grace period, three minutes at the branches and seven minutes at the Main, and then the booking is automatically canceled with the passed time deducted from the user’s daily allotment. And, still, despite these regulations, many complain these computer stations are over-crowded.

Accessibility: 1 out of 3

Shockingly, it is not possible to reserve a computer over the phone or via email. You must fill out the online form in order to make the reservation.

If you need to use a computer in a library, isn’t it likely that you do not have a computer elsewhere to use? Doesn’t that mean that you likely, then, don’t have a computer elsewhere to use to sign up for a library computer? So, why would they make it so you have to go to the library in order to reserve a library computer for later that day? It just seems inconvenient.

You also must have a library card. If you do not, you can only use the Internet Express computers for 15 minutes at a time as do not require reservation.

There are Spanish and Chinese translation buttons on the Library pages, but once you click to reserve a computer and are confronted with the pop-out window for the reservation, the form in the pop-out window is not...translated.

Ease of Use: 2.5 out of 3

It’s an involved process from the SFgov.org homepage, but once you’re there, it’s easy enough.

Design: 3 of 3

The pages are consistent and the form is intuitive.

The Guide: 3 out of 3

There’s a comprehensive online FAQ! And there’s a “Contact” link at the base of each page you can use to reach a person on the phone or by email. 

User Feedback: 2.5 out of 3

If you click that “Contact” at the very base of the meeting room pages, there is a “comments and suggestions” hyperlink to the feedback form, though it’s not publicly aggregated.

Finding it...

Start at the SFgov.org website, and select “Residents” from the universal navigation bar at the top of the page. Once on the “Residents” page, click “Recreation and Learning” from beneath the “Spotlight” menu (toward the middle of the page). From the “Recreation and Learning” page, choose “San Francisco Public Libraries” under the “Libraries” header in the “Key Services” section.

Now, on the SFPL.org website, mouse over the “Services” option from the navigation bar at the top of the page. A drop-down menu should populate and from there, select “Reserve Computers.”   Click the “Reserve Computers” button at the top of the “Reserve Computers” page (redundant?). Then, in the pop-out, provide a Library card number, a corresponding PIN, and proceed to choose the branch, type of personal computer, date and time.

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Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137