The library provides free computer access including Internet, Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint, and wireless printing. It doesn't matter if you don't have access at home or if you're on the road and just need a place to link up: check us out!
Public Computer Stations
Baltimore County Public Library believes that all County residents should have access to the tools and technologies necessary to succeed in the world today and so all BCPL branches have free public computers for use by our customers. However computers in a shared environment require management and limitations in order to protect our users and computers from viruses or other inconveniences as well as to maintain a proper environment in our diverse branches.
The following rules and limitations are enforced when working on public computers at all BCPL branches:
- Public computers are available at all BCPL branches and currently have:
- Windows 7
- Internet Explorer 11
- Office 2013 including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2013
- Google Chrome as an alternate browser
- Customers can view PDF files via Internet Explorer, but they will not be able to view email attachments.
- Customers having web-based email such as Hotmail, Yahoo, or any other web-based email account may send and receive email using the public computers, but they will not be able to view or download any file attachments other than PDF files.
- BCPL allows the use of USB storage devices in its public computers to save or retrieve information. Please note that this is the only direct method for saving files as the CD and floppy drives on all public computers have been disabled and there is no mechanism for the saving of files to floppy disk or to CD. USB storage devices should not require device drivers or special software to be installed for use with Windows XP. Connecting other types of devices to the computer using the USB ports is not recommended. The library is not responsible for technical support required by the use of the devices or any damage, loss or destruction of personal devices connected by customers. Please note that affordable USB thumb drives are available for sale in our branches.
- Public computers do not have speakers, but customers may use their own headphones and affordable earbuds are available for sale in our branches.
- You can print from signup computers and from your wireless devices on our network in the branch although there is a fee for printouts. Printing is only available on standard white computer paper but is now available in color as well as in black and white. Please consult our fax/photocopying/printing guidelines since printout charges vary between the two formats. You may print files directly from applications on the computer station or from personal USB thumb drives accessed via the computer. All print jobs are sent to a central computer printout station where payment is rendered prior to being printed. Customers may not use their own paper.
- Customers using public computer stations at Baltimore County Public Library must have a Baltimore County Public Library card or have a library card from another Maryland public library that is registered in Baltimore County Public Library. To apply for a Baltimore County Public Library card, visit the Accounts Desk at any Baltimore County Public Library branch or any Mobile Library Services bookmobile stop. Valid current photo identification is needed for registration. A library card will provide quick access to computers and may eliminate some time waiting for available stations.
- Customers must use a library card registered in his/her own name to sign up for a computer at the Computer Sign-Up station. Directions for sign up are available at this computer. Customers may only use their own personal library card barcode number and must enter the barcode number and their name in the designated spaces.
- When a computer is assigned to a customer he/she has 7 minutes to revalidate at the assigned computer with his/her barcode. If a customer does not revalidate within the time limit, the computer will automatically be reassigned to the next person waiting.
- All computer sessions last 60 minutes and will be automatically extended in 30-minute increments if there is no waiting list.
- Customers must relinquish computers after a 60 minute session if there is a waiting list. The computer will automatically end the session. A warning will be given before the end of the session.
- Customers may have an unlimited number of sessions per day if there is no waiting list.
- One-time users of BCPL public computers, including non-residents of Maryland, may register as guests. All guests must present valid current photo identification to a branch staff member. Instead of a barcode number, customers registered as guests will use their complete birthday (mmddyyyy) as an identifier to be assigned a computer and track length of computer use.
- A one-time exception may be made for customers already registered as a library card holder with Baltimore County Public Library but who do not have their library card with them to sign-up for a computer. Customers must present valid current photo identification to a branch staff member who will look up their library card number. In order to protect library records and the privacy of BCPL customers, the information in our database must match the identification presented. Customers that need to update information such as their address or name can be assisted by a staff member at the Accounts Desk. Customers who have lost or misplaced their library cards must reregister for a card.
- Customer's library accounts must be in good standing to use our public computers. Customers with fines or fees greater than $25 must pay 10% of those fees in order to use a public computer that day.
- Students ages 8 through 17 are required to obtain a BCPL library card in order to sign up for a computer.
- Children 7 and under must be accompanied by an adult when using computers in any Baltimore County Public Library.
- All customers using public computer stations must agree to abide by the Baltimore County Public Library's Internet Acceptable Use Statement.
Wireless Internet Access and Printing
Connecting Your Wireless Device | Using Your Wireless Device | Terms of Service
All branches of the Baltimore County Public Library offer free wireless network and Internet access to library users with personal wireless-enabled devices such as laptop computers, tablets, e-readers, PDAs, and cell phones so that you can connect to the Internet or use the library's online resources -including our free premium databases- without having to wait for one of the library's computers to become available. Please note that not all devices that are wireless capable are able to make use of BCPL's wireless network.
Wireless printing in black and white and color for a per page fee is also available to users of laptop computers running Windows operating systems. Wireless printing is available for Windows devices and for Macintosh computers running operating system 10.5 or later (Intel only).
Your use of the BCPL wireless network implies acceptance of the terms of services explained below.
Connecting Your Wireless Device
If your laptop or other wi-fi device uses a removable wireless card, make sure it is installed according to the manufacturer's instructions. Depending on what type of wi-fi device you have, how recent it is, and how you have it configured, it may be able to connect to the BCPL wireless network automatically. If it does not, use your device's wi-fi setup software to configure the following:
- Network Name (SSID): BCPL-PUBLIC-WIFI
- Network Mode: Infrastructure
- WEP: Disabled
- TCP/IP or Network Settings: DHCP enabled (sometimes called "Obtain IP address automatically")
- DNS: Automatic
- Gateway: Automatic
Your wireless setup software may not require all of the above. You are responsible for understanding how to configure your own wireless device. Because there are many different types of wireless devices requiring many different configuration methods, library staff are not able to assist you with the configuration of your wi-fi device.
Using Your Wireless Device on BCPL's Network
Once you have successfully connected to BCPL's free public wireless network, launch an Internet browser from your wireless device.
You should be directed to the Library's Acceptable Use Statement page and you must accept this statement by clicking the "Submit" button to log in to the BCPL wireless network for Internet access.
Printing: It is possible to print to library printers from the BCPL public wireless network. After wireless users have approved our Acceptable Use Statement, they are directed to a Wireless Printing Client page (you must be connected to the public wireless network to view this page.)
The software directs your printouts from your device to the black and white ($ .15 per page) or color printers ($ .30 per page) at that branch. These "virtual printer drivers" will automatically disappear and self delete once you are disconnected from BCPL's network. Wireless printing is available for Windows devices and for Macintosh computers running operating system 10.5 or later (Intel only).
Terms of Service
Use of the Baltimore County Public Library wireless network implies understanding of and agreement by you to be bound by the terms of the BCPL Internet Acceptable Use Statement. Please read it before using the service. Failure to comply with the BCPL Internet Acceptable Use Statement can lead to suspension of library privileges and/or prosecution.
In addition, use of the BCPL wireless network implies understanding of and agreement with the following:
- The BCPL wireless network is compatible with wireless devices using the 802.11b and/or 802.11g wireless standards. This includes the vast majority of wireless-enabled devices sold in recent years. If your wireless device uses a different standard, such as 802.11a, it cannot connect to the BCPL wireless network. You are responsible for verifying compatibility of your equipment with the BCPL wireless network.
- BCPL does not guarantee that you will have wireless access at any specific BCPL facility at any specific time or with any specific equipment. Service disruptions may occur, and some wireless equipment may not be compatible with the BCPL wireless network.
- Library staff are not able to provide technical assistance with your wireless device, with your connection to the BCPL wireless network, or with your connection from that network to the Internet. As a user of the BCPL wireless network you are responsible for correctly configuring your own wireless equipment. Basic instructions are provided above.
- You are accessing the Internet via a public network. BCPL cannot guarantee the privacy of information you transfer over that network or over the Internet.
- Virus protection and the security of information stored on or transmitted by your wireless device is your responsibility.
- BCPL assumes no responsibility for damage, theft, or loss of a customer's equipment, software, data or other personal property brought into or used within BCPL facilities.