Free Wireless Internet Access at the New York State Library

A free high-speed broadband wireless network is available on the 7th floor and the 11th floor of the Cultural Education Center.  This wireless network will allow you to access the Internet from your own wireless-enabled laptop computer anywhere on the 7th floor of the State Library and in the public areas of the 11th floor during all hours that the library is open. The wireless network is open to all visitors free of charge. 

Researcher tables on the 7th floor of the State Library are equipped with electrical outlets so that you can plug your laptop directly into the table.

Getting online is quick and simple – no special encryption settings, user names or passwords are required.  Simply launch your web browser and your computer’s home page will appear. You can begin surfing immediately.

To access the Library’s online catalog or for information about the services and resources available to you at the New York State Library, go to www.nysl.nysed.gov.

Hardware and Software requirements:

  • You need a laptop computer or other device such as a PDA with a standard wireless network interface card (NIC) or laptop with integrated WiFi capability. Your NIC needs to be compatible with the Wi-Fi standards "802.11b" or "802.11g."
  • You also need a web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

Connecting to the Network:

If you have a newer laptop or wireless card, your computer may automatically find the wireless network.  If the connection to the network fails, you may need to change the computer settings.  Your computer should be set up to use:

For: Settings:
Network name or SSID:
for 7th floor: reslib (name must be lower case)

for 11th floor: CEC11W (If necessary, select the strongest channel shown)
Wireless mode or network type:
Access Point or Infrastructure (not "Ad Hoc")
Network properties:
Use DHCP (obtain an IP address automatically)
WEP:
Off

Next, simply launch your web browser and your computer’s home page should appear. 

Limitations and Disclaimers:

  • Library and NYS Education Department Internet policies prohibit the viewing and/or distribution of obscenity, illegal activities and malicious actions such as sending computer viruses and transmitting threatening or harassing materials.
  • The wireless network is not a secure network. Information sent from your laptop can be captured by anyone with a wireless device and the appropriate software within 300 feet. You are responsible for providing antivirus protection and firewall security.
  • Library staff are not in a position to provide technical assistance. We make no guarantee that you will be able to make a wireless connection. If you need assistance, we recommend that you contact the manufacturers of your laptop hardware and software.
  • The New York State Library assumes no responsibility for the safety of equipment, laptop configuration, or data files resulting from a laptop being connected to the Library’s wireless network.

Troubleshooting Tips

Windows 2000 & XP network settings:

  1. Click on "Start".  Go to "Setting", and then click on "Control Panel".
  2. From the Control Panel, double-click on "Network and Dial-up Connections" or "Network and Internet Connections".
  3. Right-click on "Wireless Network Connection" or "Local Area Connection (LAN)" and click on "Properties".
  4. Locate the Internet TCP/IP protocol and get into its Properties.  If more than one TCP/IP protocol is listed, look for the one associated with your wireless adapter.
  5. Select "Obtain an IP address automatically" and "Obtain DNS server address automatically".
  6. For Windows XP, right-click on "Wireless Network Connection" and select "View Available Wireless Networks.

    Select the name of the wireless network available at the New York State Library (for 7th floor: reslib; for 11th floor: CEC11W) and click on "Connect". 

Windows NT network settings:

  1. From the Control Panel, double click on "Network".
  2. Locate the TCP/IP protocol and double click on "Properties". If more than one TCP/IP protocol is listed, look for the one associated with your wireless adapter.
  3. Select "Obtain an IP address from a DHCP server" and click on "OK". 
  4. From the Control Panel, select "Internet Options", and then click on the "Connections" tab.  If you also have a dial-up connection, it should not be set to "Always dial my default connection".  LAN settings should be set to "Automatically detect settings".  Leave the Proxy server settings blank.

Macintosh (OS 8 & 9) network setting:

  1. Go to "Apple Menu" and click on "Control Panel".  Then click on "TCP/IP".
  2. Select "Connect via" and then select "Airport" or other wireless (WiFi) Ethernet.
  3. In the "Configure" menu, select "Using DHCP Server". 
  4. Leave Name Server and Additional Search domains blank.

Macintosh (OS X) network settings:

  1. Go to the "Apple Menu" and click on "System Preferences".  Then click on "Network".  
  2. Select the TCP/IP tab.  The settings should appear as Configure: "Using DHCP".
  3. Above the TCP/IP tab, you may need to Configure via "AirPort" or other wireless (WiFi) Ethernet.
  4. Leave the Domain Name Servers and Search Domains blank.

Internet Explorer tips:

There may be variations in the procedures listed below depending upon your version of the software.

  1. Click on "Start". Go to "Setting", and then click on "Control Panel".
  2. From the Control Panel, double-click on Internet Options. Then, click on the "Connections" tab.
  3. If you also have a dial-up connection, it should not be set to "Always dial my default connection".
  4. LAN settings should be set to "Automatically detect settings".  Leave the Proxy server settings blank.

WiFi Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a wireless network?

A wireless network uses radio waves instead of wires to connect your computer to the Internet. No cables or jacks are required.  As long as you are within range of an access point, you can move your computer from place to place and still access the Internet.

What do I need?

You need a laptop computer or other device such as a PDA with a standard wireless network interface card (NIC). Your NIC needs to be compatible with the Wi-Fi standards "802.11b" or "802.11g."

What do these terms mean?

  • Wi-Fi - stands for Wireless Fidelity. This is a logo from the Wi-Fi Alliance that certifies that Ethernet devices comply with the IEEE 802.11 wireless standard. In the early 2000s, Wi-Fi/802.11 became widely used ("Wi-Fi").
  • 802.11b - wireless standard that transmits data at up to 11 Mbps (megabits per second), approximately the same speed as most office networks today and can reach up to 300 feet if there are no obstructions.
  • 802.11g - newer wireless standard that works with 802.11b equipment. It can transmit data up to five times faster (55 Mbps) and is designed to use the same wireless transmitters and receivers as 802.11b.

Will I need a login or password to connect?

The Library’s wireless network is open to all visitors.  No special encryption settings, user names, logins or passwords are required.

What speed is the Library’s wireless connection?

  • The wireless connection at the State Library accesses the Internet through a link to a high-speed broadband Internet Service Provider.  
  • Speeds can range from 54 Mbps to 11 Mbps depending upon where you are located on the floor. Speed is affected by proximity to the access points; the closer you are to an access point, the faster the connection.
  • The response time that you see on your laptop also depends upon how large the web page or file that you’re accessing is, the speed of the website's connection to the Internet and how many other wireless users are transmitting data at the same time.

Who can use wireless access? Do I need a library card?

Anyone who complies with the Library’s general policies can use the wireless network.  A New York State Library Borrower’s card is not required.

Does the Library provide laptops or NIC cards?

No, you must bring your own equipment.

Where Can I Get a Wi-Fi Card?

Many new laptops come with Wi-Fi as a standard feature. Older laptops can be outfitted with an "802.11b" or "802.11g" compatible wireless network interface (NIC) card which can be purchased at local electronics and computer stores. Consult your laptop manual for specifications.

Where can I get help setting up my laptop for wireless Internet access? What if I have problems?

Everyone’s computer is different. You are responsible for setting up your own PC and other equipment. Library staff members are not able to provide direct assistance configuring laptops.  If you are not familiar with computers or networking, we recommend that you bring someone with you who can help configure your laptop. 

I can’t get a WiFi signal, but the person next to me can.

Not all wireless network interface cards are the same.  The quality of your wireless card may be quite different from the person next to you.

Can I print from my laptop?

No. Library printers are not directly accessible from the wireless network. If you would like to print something, save the file to a floppy disk, email it to yourself, or burn it to a CD.  Go to the Reference Desk – staff at the desk must scan your disk or CD for viruses. Once the disk or CD has been scanned, you can use one of our public access computers to print your document. The charge for printing at the New York State Library is ten cents per page.

How can I tell whether the wireless network is working?

After your laptop has been properly configured it should sense the wireless network as soon as you turn it on. If you don't get a response for two or three minutes, please "reboot" your laptop and try again. "Rebooting" means shutting off electrical power to the laptop using the recommended method and then turning it back on again.

How long does my wireless connection last?

There are no time limits.  However, the New York State Library reserves the right to set time limits in the future, should they be necessary to provide equal opportunity for all.

What can interrupt my wireless connection?

A cell phone probably won’t interrupt your Internet connection, but wood, people, walls, and book stacks may interfere with the connection. If you have difficulty connecting to the wireless network, try moving to a different area on the 7th floor to see if your connection improves.

My computer works in the Library but now won't work at home or work. Do you know why?

If you changed your laptop's network configuration to make it work in the Library, remember to change it back when you are at home or at work.

My software programs won't work in the library.

The New York State Library does not guarantee or support wireless access with any specific software program.

Is the information on my laptop safe from hackers while I am connected?

The Library's wireless network is not secure. Information sent from or to your laptop can be captured by anyone else with a wireless device and the appropriate software, within 300 feet. We recommend that you utilize virus protection, a personal firewall, and other measures to protect the information on your laptop. The New York State Library is not responsible for any loss of information or damage to your laptop that might result from using the wireless network.

Can I get a virus from your network?

Wireless networks do not produce viruses.  Viruses come from the Internet, often from downloaded files or attachments to e-mail.  We recommend that you have virus protection and a personal firewall installed on your laptop.

Last Updated: August 12, 2009