Bookmobile Brings Wireless Internet to Town

02 Jul 2002
BAYTOWN, Texas — When the bookmobile from the Sterling Municipal Library travels through town it not only offers readers the latest books and magazines from the city's collection, it also brings along a wireless Internet connection that serves as a window on the world. 
 
A 58-foot telescoping pneumatic mast was mounted on the back of the bookmobile in order to bring Internet access to citizens who might have difficulties getting to the library. A second antenna atop Baytown's six-story San Jacinto Methodist Hospital relays signals between the library and the bookmobile. 
 
"Our community of 66,000 doesn't have branch libraries, so our bookmobile is an important resource to outlying neighborhoods," said Linda Jones, assistant city librarian for technical services. "We want to offer residents who can't travel to us the same services they would find at the main library — including Internet access." 
 
The roving Internet connection for the Baytown bookmobile was funded through Project Gear Up, a U.S. Department of Education grant to the Sterling Library and Baytown's Lee College. It is based on Avaya Wireless Local Area Network (LAN) technology and was engineered by Nsync Services, a Texas-based consulting firm. 
 
Jones said everyone in the community will benefit from the new technology. 
 
"Most of our bookmobile patrons are children," she said. "With Internet access we have a way to improve our homework assistance services and to help with basic computer skills. In addition, our librarians are able to do their jobs better. For the first time they have access to our library network and web-based circulation database from the bookmobile itself." 
 
City Librarian Denise Fischer said that wireless technology had been a dream of the library staff for some time. 
 
"Thanks to Project Gear Up funds, our dream became a reality," Fischer said. "Avaya's reputation for quality and Nsync Services' proven expertise created the perfect match for our project." 
 
Photo caption: Jazzmine and Meaggin Wilkins of Baytown access the Internet from the Sterling Municipal Library's bookmobile. The bookmobile is equipped with an Avaya wireless local area network (LAN) solution that provides connectivity for readers at 35 stops along a five-mile route. 
 
Photo caption: A 58-foot telescoping pneumatic mast mounted on the back of the e bookmobile hoists a 12dbi directional antenna and one-watt amplifier above the treetops to send and receive a wireless signal without interference.