Authentication Requirements

for the Library's Public Computers

  1. What does "authenticate" mean and who can authenticate?
    In this case, "authenticate" means to verify the identity of authorized library patrons. Persons who have a current University of South Carolina User ID and password will be able to authenticate; this means all current students, faculty and staff on the Columbia campus.

  2. Why did we decide to authenticate our public computers?
    The major reasons were:
    • The authentication is primarily a security measure intended to prevent abuse of the Libraries' computers and the University's network. Delivery of valuable material over the web necessitates its protection both from an IP standpoint and to prevent corruption or damage. Strict server management minimizes the potential for hacker's to gain illegal access to USC data and systems.
    • We also experienced a growing number of complaints that Non-University users were monopolizing many of the computers and were using them for long periods of time to do personal email, chat and gaming. This is not a change in policy. We have posted signs for several years indicating that computers are reserved for research and that personal e-mail and chat are prohibited.

  3. How do people authenticate?
    They supply their University of South Carolina User ID (same ID as for Blackboard, GEM, GroupWise) and password.

  4. What if I really need to access a computer and there are only computers that require USC authentication available? How can I access library resources if I cannot authenticate?
    Check with the staff at a library reference desk for assistance. They assist users in locating information and can log you into a restricted computer if there is one available. Individuals wishing to access federal government information sources can be directed to the Government Information and Microforms Department on Level 5.

  5. Can I buy a University of South Carolina User ID and Password?
    No. The ID and password are issued to current University of South Carolina students, faculty and staff who have agreed to the University's appropriate use policies and paid the required fees. Because of the costs associated with providing computer services, and the need to ensure the best possible response times for our large University user base, network accounts are not offered to patrons who are not current students, faculty or staff.

  6. Where can I get open access to the Internet if not here?
    Many public libraries provide Internet access to community users. Library staff will help identify the public library most convenient for a patron's needs. In the immediate area, the Richland County Public Library [803-799-9084] have computers available for the public. Ask at the reference desk for a more complete list of all the branches.

  7. Why aren't all taxpayers or USC alumni who support the University of South Carolina given the same access to library resources, computers, and the Internet?
    University of South Carolina staff and students receive a User ID and password and open access to the Internet as part of the benefits received for paying tuition or working at the University. All patrons have access to the collection of the University of South Carolina Libraries. They also have access to our licensed databases when they are in the libraries. This includes access to over 3 million volumes in the University Libraries and more than 300 research databases containing thousands of articles. Open access computers will be available for individuals to access state and federal government internet resources. This access will be the same whether the individual is on an open access computer or an authenticated computer.

  8. Is there a time limit on my use of open access computers or authenticated computers?
    There is no time limit on most computers, but we ask that users respect the needs of other users if a waiting line develops. If staff ask a user to leave and he/she does not comply, they will notify the security monitor or call the USC campus police. There is a "time-out" on authenticated computers. If no keystrokes are made for a period of minutes, the terminal will attempt log off automatically.

  9. . When I authenticate, will the University be tracking my research on the workstation?
    No, the authentication software only verifies that the User ID and password are present in the University's database. It does not keep track of anyone's search history or even remember who is using the computer during the authenticated session.

  10. I have a library card, does that mean I can get a USC account in order to authenticate?
    No. The University Libraries' borrower card allows individuals to borrow library materials; it does not provide the opportunity for users to get USC Network accounts.

  11. How many open access terminals are there, and how do I find them?
    Currently there are 55 public computers in Thomas Cooper Library of which 12 are open access workstations on the main level, Level 4 and Government Information on Level 5 will also have open access computers available. There are also computers on each floor in the library for direct access to the library's Catalog.

  12. Who is responsible for making the decision to install authentication on these public workstations?
    The University Libraries' Leadership made this decision in July 2006.
Columbia Departments Campus Libraries
Columbia Libraries and Collections