September 23, 2019
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At this Maine library, internet service is available in a tent out front

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Friend Memorial Public Library of Brooklin offers free wireless internet service inside and outdoors.

BROOKLIN, Maine — Call it internet behind a net: Friend Memorial Public Library offers free Wi-Fi to its patrons in a tent in the library’s front yard.

Situated under a large maple, the 10-by-10-foot tent has gone up in July and August for at least the past eight years to help the small library handle an influx of summer visitors in pursuit of an internet signal, said Stephanie Atwater, the library’s director.

“We have a lot of summer residents and visitors both, and even people who want to be year-round take advantage of it,” Atwater said. “It is a good place to use it even when we are closed.”

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Max Farrar, 15, draws in the tent at Friend Memorial Public Library.

The tent has netting to keep out mosquitoes and contains a large table with seating for six. The password-free signal carries over the library grounds and into a garden alongside the library as well, Atwater said.

It allows people to use computers or cellphones without incurring data charges. Its presence is yet another sign of how library usage has leapt beyond bound books and card indexes, and how important it has become for libraries to offer internet access — even when they’ve closed for the day.

On a recent Tuesday, Connecticut visitor Max Farrar took advantage of the tent to draw characters from the Netflix TV series Stranger Things on an Apple iPad Pro.

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Friend Memorial Public Library of Brooklin offers free wireless internet service inside and outdoors.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Farrar, who is visiting grandparents in Brooklin. “The other day, I came here and it started raining, and I could still be outside drawing. So that’s what I really like to do. I also come here to do school work when I have the time and need to finish some stuff.”

The 15-year-old Farrar preferred to be in the tent rather than in the library, “in a place that is still outside and near people, where it’s not like super quiet and super regulated.”

“People love it. We hear lots of appreciation,” Atwater said.

The tent will be taken down for the season Sept. 1, she said.



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