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Residents Flock to Larchmont Library for Wi-Fi

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Unable to take the Metro North train to her Manhattan job, Abby Freeman got her work done at the Larchmont Library, where many people who lost power during Tropical Storm Irene turned to for wireless Internet access.

Freeman, a Larchmont resident who works at a New York City consulting firm, was one of about 50 people using the library's Wi-Fi to get their work done remotely.

June Hesler, interim director of the Larchmont Library, spoke with a Westchester Library System employee who tracked 48 devices -- including laptops and smartphones -- accessing their wireless connection at 4 p.m. Monday. Reference librarian Liam Hegarty counted 36 people on their laptops at one point in the afternoon.

"People were sitting on each other’s laps," said young adult reference librarian Paul Doherty. "Between people using their laptops and those using our computers, there were a lot of people."

At 5 p.m. Hegarty had to switch the sign-in sheet for the library's six computers, which had 128 patrons sign in. Hegarty said it was the first time he had ever gone through a sign-in sheet in one day.

Both the Larchmont and Mamaroneck Starbucks remained closed Monday, in addition to the Mamaroneck Library and Cosi, all popular Wi-Fi spots. Residents also used McDonalds' Wi-Fi connection throughout the day.

Like Freeman, Ted Semaya stopped by the Palmer Avenue Starbucks Monday morning to find it closed due to a power outage. The Larchmont resident isn't a regular library user, but his daughter is and followed her lead Monday.

"The library is full of Internet refugees," Semaya said, a lawyer who works in New York City. "You can kind of figure out who the regulars are pretty quickly."

David Culhane, a Larchmont resident and regular library patron, didn't lose power but lost phone, television and Internet. The library was his first stop.

"It's a great library," he said. "I knew if anybody had it, they would."

Did you lose service over the weekend? Where did you go to connect to the Internet? Comment below, on Facebook and Twitter .

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