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NPL Public Computers & Wireless Network Information

Norfolk Public Library provides and maintains computers, printers and other peripheral equipment, and software for patron use as part of its mission to provide information and informational tools for the public. The equipment and software provided are designed to fulfill that mission as completely as possible within the limits of available staff and funding. 

Equipment and Software

Because the Library has limited staff and funding, it is not possible to provide the entire range of equipment or software that patrons may have access to from other sources. In prioritizing its resources, the Library focuses on enabling access to the following.

  1. Standard office and other widely-used software programs such as Adobe Reader
  2. Web email
  3. Information for job searching, civic information and engagement, general needs, learning and recreation

Standard Equipment and Software

In order to provide access to the above, the Library provides the following resources:

  1. Computers with Windows XP or Windows 7 operating system
  2. USB ports and floppy disc drives for data transfer
  3. CD drives for opening but not saving files
  4. Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. All Office programs have converters for Office 2007 and Office 2010 files and can open and edit these documents, though users should be aware that the conversion process may change the formatting of some documents, particularly PowerPoint. The Library is upgrading its Microsoft Office software as funding allows.
  5. Microsoft Internet Explorer
  6. Microsoft Media Player

Additional Features on Some Computers

Additionally, some computers may have additional resources which the Library is not able to supply on all computers. These features are available on some computers because they were offered at no additional cost when the computers were purchased or when they were supplied through one of the various grant donation programs through which the Library has acquired many of its public computers. Due to limited staff and funding the Library is not able to support these features on all computers and cannot guarantee that they will be available on any given computer. These features include:

  1. DVD drives from which files can be opened but not saved
  2. CD and/or DVD drives that will save ("burn") files through Microsoft Media Player
  3. Microsoft Publisher

Please note that while the Library will maintain these additional features to the best of its ability, they are not included in the primary list of supported and maintained features and thus may not always be fully supported or maintained on the computers that have them.

Access and Policy Information

For further information about the use of Library computers please see the Norfolk Public Library Computer and Internet Safety and Usage Policy.

Wireless Access

Free wireless Internet access is provided at all Library agencies by the City of Norfolk IT Department and Norfolk Public Library. The wireless network is an enterprise-grade system (as used by other large organizations such as colleges and universities) to which most wireless devices, including standard laptop computers, iPads, and other devices will connect. The Library cannot guarantee that any given device will connect to the wireless network, and while basic instructions for connecting are available at all agencies, Library staff will not make adjustments to non-Library equipment. Some devices will not connect to the wireless network but will connect to home wireless networks; they are not designed to connect to enterprise-grade networks.

The wireless network is security-enabled and requires a network key and username and password. Please ask at any service desk for login information. While the security system does offer some measure of protection from unauthorized access to data, users should be aware that no system is completely safe from unauthorized monitoring and/or hacking.

The Library does not currently offer printing through the wireless network.

Wireless access is filtered at a single level and cannot be adjusted by Library personnel. It is filtered for pornography and illegal activities, but is not filtered for social networking. Parents are responsible for managing their children’s Internet activity on personally-owned equipment.

Technology Limitations

Additionally, certain Internet technologies are not available through wireless access for security reasons. These include the following:

  • Only ports 80 and 443 are enabled. Technologies that use other ports will not work.
  • POP email—i.e., email through an installed copy of Outlook, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, or other email software—is disabled because of security concerns. Web email via online services such as those provided by Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail is accessible through a browser.
  • VPN software will work if it is SSL based and uses port 443. If it is not SSL-based and/or requires ports other than 443 it will not work.