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Adding public access computers to the public library environment has been a major service enhancement AND a major support headache. Luckily there are proven Best Practices that can guide you in managing these important assets. This course covers what you need to know to provide an excellent computing environment for your users while reducing the burden on staff and increasing your return on investment in public access computing. You will learn efficient strategies for:

  • Maintaining a standard hardware and software platform,
  • Having technical staff configure, rollout, and restore all of your library desktops,
  • Deciding when and how you should replace your public access computers,
  • Integrating support of your public access computers into the library's operations and budget, and
  • Protecting each user's privacy.

While this course offers information that will be useful in any public library setting, special attention has been given to the needs of libraries that are eligible for the Gates Public Access Computer Hardware Upgrade Grant (PAC HUG). If your library will be receiving funds to replace your public access computers, this course can help guarantee that those funds will be well spent and that your public access computers will be managed as efficiently as they can be.

Workshop Description: This all-day workshop is designed for public library staff that must make decisions about how to handle public access computing. It is not a highly technical course; the focus will be on understanding how to make best use of your Gates or other public access computers. Through lecture, demonstration, group exercises, and individual exercises you will be introduced to proven Best Practices that will contribute to your success. Attendees will also have an opportunity to evaluate their own libraries' public access computing environments. Participants will leave the class with practical ideas for improving the services they offer to their users and for making the management of their public access computers more efficient, cost-effective, and secure.

Pre-workshop assignment: Each student should bring a list of the public access computers in their library or branch, including the following information about each computer: processor, operating system, amount of RAM, year purchased, brand, vendor/supplier.

Preliminary Course Outline:

  • Role of Public Access Computing in the Public Library
    • The ideal public access computer
    • Support for public
  • Public Access Computer Features and Maintenance
    • What people need to be able to do on your computers
    • What people need to be prevented from doing on your computers
    • Approaches to configuration
    • Sticky configuration issues
  • Computer Management and Configuration: Best Practices
    • Replacement cycle
    • Standardization
    • PC purchasing tips
    • Alternatives to the PC
  • Staffing and Budgeting
    • How to support your public access computers
    • Budgeting for hardware and software
    • Gap analysis

Workshop Instructor: Lori Bowen Ayre