The county library system must have had David Richards and Jamie Storing in mind when it decided to leave its wireless Internet available all night.

Richards, 32, produces music on his laptop by downloading sounds from the Internet. Storing, 26, is a single mother who just moved to the area and has been researching programs and services online.

Richards and Storing sat on the new benches in front of the Port Huron branch on a sunny Tuesday afternoon before heading in to use the free internet service. As of Monday, they could also have accessed the library’s wireless network from the same sunny spot 24 hours a day.

St. Clair County Library System will no longer be shutting off its wireless network service at closing time. High-speed internet access will be open to all cardholders 24/7 on building grounds at its 11 branches.

“We’ve got very good service. All we needed to do was take that step and turn the Wi-Fi on all the time,” said Allison Arnold, library system executive director.

The extended access means that patrons can use their library cards and PINs to sign on to the internet within the reception area of each building. Signal reach outside buildings varies at all the branches. The Port Huron branch has connectivity in some areas of its parking lot, but reception is best in the bench area in front of the building.

Based on whether patrons make use of the extended service hours and the kinds of reception they are receiving, the library could add antennas to improve wireless range. Arnold said adding antennas would come with a cost, whereas providing the new 24/7 access carries no extra cost for the library.

“Our hope is we’re reaching more community residents and the libraries’ use and value would be increased,” Arnold said. “We know typically library hours don’t always fit into all of the patrons’ schedules who would want to use library databases, websites, and references resources.”

Arnold said the extension of free access also recognizes that some library patrons don’t have Internet access at home, or that it might not be available at all times.

Storing is one of those patrons. “I can’t really afford paying an Internet bill at my house, so it would be a matter of convenience, and it would be in a peaceful, nice environment,” Storing said of the bench seating in front of the main library.

Richards brought his personal laptop and headphones to continue working from it online while Storing went online from the library’s computer.

“I make music, so I was just making a beat. I’m not going to do anything when I go in there but probably download some sound-packs. Then we’re going to research a couple of things,” Richards said.

Library community relations coordinator Mike Mercatante said there have been many requests from patrons to offer 24-hour Internet access.

He said in the past patrons would need to hurry and save their work 15 minutes before the libraries closed because that’s when the Internet would be cut off.

Mercatante said they would no longer have to sign off as long as they stayed on library property.

“It’s an electronic extension beyond traditional services, but it would have to be on library grounds or on one of the benches…to stay in the reception area,” he said.

Contact Syeda Ferguson at (810) 989-6276 or email her at syeda@thetimesherald.com. Follow her on Twitter@shossainfe.

St. Clair County Library System

Branches and locations

Main Library/Port Huron 210 McMorran Blvd., Port Huron 810.987.7323 or 877.987.7323

Algonac-Clay Township 2011 St. Clair River Dr., Algonac 794.4471

Burtchville Township 7093 Second St., Lakeport 810.385.8550

Capac 111 N. Main, Capac 810.395.7000

G. Lynn Campbell/Kimball 1955 N. Allen Rd., Kimball 810.982.9171

Ira Township 7013 Meldrum Rd., Fair Haven 586.725.9081

Marine City 300 S. Parker, Marine City 810.765.5233

Marysville 1175 Delaware, Marysville 810.364.9493

Memphis 34830 Potter St., Memphis 810.392.2980

St. Clair 310 S. Second St., St. Clair 810.329.395

Yale 2 Jones St., Yale 810.387.2940