Computer Help & Technology

Computer Help

Computer Classes

SFPL provides a variety of computer classes to aid in the use of Library and Web-based resources, including:

  • Basic Computer & Internet Skills Training
  • Library Catalog
  • Basic email classes
  • Basic technology training
  • Beginning Computing Classes for Seniors and Adults

Some of these classes are available in Russian, Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese. For specific dates, times and locations each month, please visit SFPL's Public Events Calendar or pick up a paper copy of At The Library at any branch or a listing of Computer Classes at the Main Library.

Logging On and Off Library Computers

  • For Internet Express computers, you will need a library card.
  • For PCs and laptop computers on the reservation system, click the cursor so that it blinks in the first white entry box. Type in your library card number found on the back of your card (with no spaces). Click the cursor so that it blinks in the second white entry box. Type in your Personal Identification Number (PIN), then click Login. You will then be logged on for up to 1 hour (Main and most branches–30 minutes at North Beach and Ortega Branch). During your session, you will receive two pop-up time limit warnings, at 6 and 2 minutes before the end of the session. To log out, close all windows, then click the LOGOUT button.
  • For Library Catalog/Database workstations, tap the keyboard to light up the screen, then proceed as prompted by screen instructions.
  • If a PC is not responding, please ask Library staff for assistance.

Office 2013

PIN Help

Questions and Answers about Library Computers

Staff Assistance

Staff will assist Library users in getting started on the Internet. We offer limited assistance with basic Internet and word processing tasks; however, SFPL cannot guarantee that staff trained in all aspects of Internet or Word Processing will be available to assist users at all times. Staff is not able to offer extensive explanations about the Internet or personal computer use or provide in-depth training. Time permitting, staff will try to answer specific questions about the Internet and offer suggestions for effective searching. Staff is expressly prohibited from recommending any specific commercial site over another or performing commercial transactions for patrons. Librarians may direct Library users to a variety of books on Internet and computer related topics and free SFPL computer classes.

Using Chinese Characters on Library Computers

WiFi Help

  • The Library’s public WiFi network (SFPL-WIRELESS) allows an unlimited number of users to log on simultaneously, which could affect connectivity and performance. To accommodate the growing popularity of WiFi for our public’s personal and business use, the Library monitors usage continuously and implements network changes to keep up with bandwidth demands.
  • Troubleshooting network settings

Computer Applications/ Software

Desktop Computers

Assistive Technology

Downloading & Saving Documents

Library users may save their work onto any USB-compatible storage device. Documents and software cannot be downloaded or saved onto Library PCs, including the desktop. To download or save files, please bring your own USB device (e.g. jump drive or thumb drive).

  • Floppy drives are no longer installed on Library PCs; however, some locations have portable floppy drives available for use during your reservation. To borrow a floppy drive, please present your I.D. or library card at the Reference Desk. Floppy drives are available free-of-charge while supplies last.
  • CD/DVDs: Library PCs do not have CD/DVD-ROM drives installed. Patrons may not save documents to CDs or DVDs.
  • Web-based options: For patrons who do not bring anything on which to save their work, Web-based tools such as the ones listed below are an alternative. Most are free-of-charge and require registration. Please note that these tools are unaffiliated with SFPL and that the Library does not endorse or recommend any one tool over another.

The Library prohibits the downloading of copyrighted materials in any form. Please follow all copyright laws.

Email access

SFPL does not provide email accounts nor do we endorse any email provider. Time permitting, staff can show you a sample of free email providers,* and provide basic instruction in signing up for an email account. Additional instruction in the use of email is available through free library classes.

*See the review of email providers at http://email.about.com/od/freeemailreviews/tp/free_email.htm. These sites are unaffiliated with SFPL and the Library does not endorse or recommend any one over another.

Headphones

Internet Access

  • Internet PCs are available at the Main Library and at all the branches. All holders of SFPL library cards are allocated 1 hour per day of usage on any combination of desktop and laptop PCs.
  • Library users can sign up for Internet computers via a computerized reservation system. On the Library's home page, click Reserve a Computer, enter your library card number without spaces, and click on the Submit button. In the Library, you may also use Library Catalog PCs to sign up; they are marked with orange tags. The Main Library has two 30-minute Internet Express computers on the 1st floor which may be used without a library card. Tap the keyboard to light up the screen, then click the START button. You will then be logged on for 30 minutes. During your session, you will receive two pop-up time limit warnings, at 6 and 2 minutes before the end of the session. To log out, close all windows, then click the LOGOUT button.
  • Reserving a Computer
  • Questions and Answers about Library Computers

Printing in the Library

Reserve Computers

Time Limits

Users with San Francisco Public Library cards requesting Internet computers and laptops on the reservation system are allotted a total of two hours per day in any combination. Sessions on PCs and laptops may be two one-hour sessions each day. Users may reserve a computer for their second hour after they have used their first hour. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to two days in advance. To apply for a library card, please visit Get a Library Card. Please also note:

  • If you need more than two hours of computer time, you may use an Internet Express computer on the 1st floor of the Main Library; make a reservation for the next 2 days; and/or ask a Librarian for referrals to computer resources outside the library system.
  • Internet Express computers can be used for 30 minutes at a time. Please return to the line if you need additional sessions.
  • Library Catalog and Database computers are available on a first come, first served basis.
  • Patrons using the ADA stations are allotted two hours per day at those stations.
  • Patrons using the hoopla stations are allotted three hours per day at those stations.
  • Library computers shut down 15 minutes prior to closing; the duration of the last session of each day is shortened accordingly.

Walk-up Use

Due to a limited number of workstations, Library users are encouraged to use the reservation system. However, walk-up use of public computers is available under the following circumstances:

  • Internet Express computers on the 1st floor of the Main Library.
  • When an Adult, Children's or Teen PC is unoccupied and there are no reservations on it, SFPL cardholders who have unused allotted time may log on. The screen will indicate when the next reservation is with an Available until message.
  • An Adult, Children's or Teen PC is also available for walk-up use if the person who reserved it is more than 7 minutes (at Main) or 3 minutes (at Branches) late. The screen will indicate when the next reservation is with an Available until message.
  • Library Catalog and Database computers are available on a first come, first served basis; there may be a 30 minute time limit during peak hours.

Hardware

Computer types

  • The Library offers desktop and laptop computers (PCs) that provide access to the Library's catalog and online resources, the Internet, recordings, and office productivity software. Individual stations are designated in the following categories:

    • Children's (ages 12 and under)
    • Teen and Adult (ages 13 and up)
    • hoopla stations at the Main Library.
    • ADA (Main Library only)
    • 30-minute Internet Express
    • Library Catalog and Databases
  • Laptops for use in the library.
  • With the exception of the Main Library 1st floor 30-minute Internet Express, Library Catalog and Database, PressDisplay, eNewsCenter, and ADA computers, all public computers are on the automated reservation system.
  • See Time Limits for daily allotments on Library computers.
  • Workstation capabilities and specific locations vary according to Library site.

Copiers

Fax

Headphones

Printers

Scanners

Typewriters

Laptops

Ethernet Ports in the Library

Patrons bringing their own Ethernet cables can connect their laptops to jacks installed at specified tables on floors 3, 4 & 5 in the Main Library. See locations on map

Laptops for Use in the library

Time Limits

Users with a San Francisco Public Library card requesting the Internet computers and laptops on the reservation system are allotted up to a total of two one-hour sessions each day. Users may reserve a computer for their second hour after they have used their first hour. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to two days in advance. To apply for a library card, please visit Get a Library Card. Please also note:

  • If you need more than two hours of computer time, you may use an Internet Express computer on the 1st floor of the Main Library; make a reservation for the next 2 days; and/or ask a Librarian for referrals to computer resources outside the library system.
  • Internet Express computers can be used for 30 minutes at a time. Please return to the line if you need additional sessions.
  • Library Catalog and Database computers are available on a first come, first served basis.
  • Patrons using the ADA stations are allotted two hours per day at those stations.
  • Patrons using the hoopla stations are allotted three hours per day at those stations.
  • Library computers shut down 15 minutes prior to closing; the duration of the last session of each day is shortened accordingly.

Wireless Network

Patrons will find wireless networks at all buildings in the San Francisco Public Library system. For locations of access points in the Main Library, see map.

Mobile Devices and Storage Media

Mobile devices

  • Mobile devices (such as cell phones, BlackBerrys, iPods, MP3 players, iPads and digital cameras) may be used on Library computers only for the purposes of saving and retrieving files.
  • Connect to a Library desktop computer via the USB extension cable that is provided; do not use the computer’s USB ports directly.
  • Prohibited actions include but are not limited to running applications; booting; plugging into USB ports in the CPU directly; plugging in any non-storage USB devices (e.g. USB WiFi network card, USB WiFi access point).
  • Use mobile devices on the Library’s computer equipment at your own risk. SFPL is not responsible for any damage or loss that may occur.
  • Disclaimer for Assistance with Patron Mobile Devices (PDF). English | Chinese | Spanish

Storage media

Storage media (e.g. flash drives) should be used on Library computers only for the purposes of saving and retrieving files.

  • Connect to a Library desktop computer via the USB extension cable that is provided; do not use the computer’s USB ports directly.
  • Prohibited actions include but are not limited to running applications; booting; plugging into USB ports in the CPU directly.
  • Use storage media on the Library’s computer equipment at your own risk. SFPL is not responsible for any damage or loss that may occur.

Printing

Rules, Policies & Procedures

Children and Teens

As with other library materials, restricting a child or teen's access to the Internet is the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian. It is recommended that parents or guardians discuss safe Internet practices with their children. For more information, please see SFPL's Internet Use Policy and the SFPL Kids webpage section: Going Online.

Computer Etiquette

  • While waiting for computer availability, please respect the privacy of the current user.
  • Please do not prevent others from claiming computer reservations or turns at Internet computers either verbally or physically (i.e., sitting at the computer without being logged in).
  • Any question or conflict about computer reservations should be referred to Library staff on duty. You may be asked to submit your library card number to resolve the issue. Our goal is to provide access to all who wish to use the public computers, and we will do everything we can to resolve the situation to everyone's satisfaction.
  • Please keep your belongings with you at all times. The Library is not responsible for loss or damage to personal belongings. Unattended belongings may be picked up by Library staff and removed either to the nearest Reference Desk, or to the Security Office.
  • Please keep all conversation, including cell phone use, at a low volume.
  • Please move to designated areas to talk on your cell phone.
  • Please be courteous to other users by following the Guidelines for Library Use.

Computer Policies

Computer Use Mission Statement

To fulfill its mission of providing free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joy of reading to our diverse community, the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) provides access to the Internet and to personal computers with a variety of software

Number of Persons Per Computer

Librarians may, at their discretion, limit use of computer terminals to one or two patrons as needed to ensure comfort, safety, use, or quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the Library for all Library users and staff. Patrons may be allowed to work collaboratively, if their behavior causes no disruption.

Privacy Policy

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