Pegged to the story of Eric Sheptock, a homeless man in D.C. who has blogged about homeless issues all the way to CNN, NPR, and the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper has put together a guide of where to go in the District to access the Internet for free if you don’t have a computer.
Barring the D.C. Public Library system, which maintains about 600 free computers, or, not nearly enough to service the 40 percent of residents in City Wards 5, 7, and 8, WCP has put Georgetown’s Lauinger Library first in that guide:
“The best place in the area for virtually unlimited, unmonitored computer use. In what Georgetown officials say is ‘a conscious effort to reach out to the community and the city,’ the library is open daily from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. to anyone with a photo ID. On the main floor are 45 computers equipped with Windows Vista and available to anyone, though they tend to be for short-term use.
“The real sweet spot is downstairs. Open 24 hours most days (closed between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday nights), the basement’s Gelardin New Media Center has roughly 65 computers with a basic version of Windows; the chairs are soft, the lighting not too bright, and the computers all come with keyboard wrist pads.”
Flattering us further, reporter Amanda Abrams gives props to the Corp: “Best is the second-floor café, which is open until 2 a.m. many nights and offers dirt-cheap bagels with cream cheese,” she writes. While service can be notoriously slow at said café, Midnight Mug, we have to agree, those are some damn good, cheap bagels.
But a few points of information, D.C. residents: Not all 65 downstairs computers are available for anyone to use. Any computers that do extra stuff—video editing and scanning, for instance—required a Georgetown login that only students and employees have.
And Abrams incorrectly reports that through clever navigation of our “idiosyncratic entry scheme for outsiders,” you can enter the Library at 10:45 p.m., just before they start turning away outsiders, and “no one will care whether you’re a student or not.” In fact, the Department of Public Safety scours the Library almost every evening checking to see if you have a University ID once it’s time for outsiders to leave. If you don’t, adios.
Still, she closes with strong advice.
“[G]et ready for sensory deprivation—if you spend too much time in the windowless Gelardin Center, it will start to feel like a dungeon.”