Two Step Verification and Public Library Patrons Who Don’t Have Mobile Phones

We’ve been increasingly running into an issue at our library over the past year where the patrons who are using our public computers are trying to set up an email address OR access their current email address but are being required to set up Two Factor Authentication. The issue we run into is this: some of the folks that are trying to set up or access their email do not have a mobile phone so that they can complete their Two Factor Authentication.

In a few instances early on we used our library phone number to help complete the Two Factor Authentication, but after just a few times we decided against having our library phone number associated with the accounts of our patrons. It could get messy really fast if everyone was using our number, so we quickly stopped doing that.

What are some of the ways that your library is handling this issue? Is it even coming up in your library? Are we missing something? I am looking to have a conversation around this and gain new insight into how we can better serve our community members. I think it’s important that we are there for our community and this is one of the ways we can be there for them.


  1. I ran into this issue at both the public library and when working with an English language learners class at the community college library. I’m interested in what others have done to help patrons.

  2. A couple years ago when I was dealing with this, I was often able to set up Gmail accounts without phone numbers. However, I do remember that every so often, it would insist on putting in a phone number.

    I did find a Quora article (from 2017) that may address what’s going on:

    “If you have created more than 2–3 Gmail accounts with the same IP or same browser without clearing history and cookies. But if you want to create unlimited Gmail accounts without phone verification then you have to follow some simple tricks.

    Clear browser history and cache data
    Restart your PC”

    For other email providers, I don’t have any suggestions. Good luck!

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