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Sandy aftermath: Westchester libraries draw crowds for Wi-Fi, Power

Residents congregate in Warner library to access the

Residents congregate in Warner library to access the internet and charge their phones in Tarrytown. (Nov. 1, 2012) Credit: Xavier Mascareñas

Westchester libraries have become quite the hot spot after Hurricane Sandy walloped the area and left hundreds of thousands of people without power.

Officials at Warner Library in Tarrytown, for example, said they have seen double the number of usual patrons, many going to access Wi-Fi and get connected to the Internet.

"People are really grateful to have a place to stay warm, plug in and use the Internet," said Maureen Petry, director of Warner Library, which reopened Tuesday afternoon.

"There's no pressure to purchase anything here, there's no time limit or pressure to leave," Petry said. "This is your community. You support it, and it's here for you when you need it."

Libraries are only one of the many places resourceful Westchester residents have headed to in order to get their technology fix. Others have gone to coffeehouses and fast-food eateries that offer Wi-Fi.

To accommodate the large crowd, library staff brought power strips from their own homes and the library opened an upstairs area that is usually reserved for meetings or special events.

Petry said people of all ages have been using the library post-Sandy, but the majority have been those who normally commute to New York City and need to access their work files. This commuting crowd, which typically stays the whole day, has largely taken over the top floor while children and families are downstairs.

The Warner Library isn't alone in its popularity among those wanting Wi-Fi in Westchester. Of the 38 public libraries in the county, 20 are open and offering wireless access. Pat Braja, director of development for the Westchester Library System, said many of these locations are just as packed.

"In libraries that are open, every seat is being taken. People are using stools and carts. Every outlet is being used," Braja said. "People are just flocking to the libraries to be somewhere away from home."

Braja also said many Westchester libraries are extending hours to accommodate the public needs.

Hours and wireless availability of Westchester libraries can be found on the Westchester Library System's website.

A map of Wi-Fi hotspots in Westchester can be found here.

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