A year in technology at Delta County Libraries
By Tracy Ihnot
Published Thursday, March 30, 2017 9:48 am
2016 was a big year for Delta County Libraries in the area of technology. With five locations, there are over 175 computers districtwide that the libraries must maintain, including staff and patron work stations. In 2016 alone, there were 39,731 log-ins to the public computers provided at the libraries. And that does not include internet usage, which is a much higher number.
Patrons often access the internet from personal devices on library grounds either during or after open hours. With numbers gathered since June 2016, Delta County Libraries technology manager Markee Travis estimates that there were well over 50,000 uses of the libraries' internet throughout the year.
With this kind of usage, ensuring that all of the computers and internet are up and running smoothly every day, countywide, is a big job. "You can pretty much bet on having regular, weekly technical problems," Travis reports.
In response to the growing need for the service, maintenance and replacement of its aging technology, the library district implemented several important strategies in 2016. March marks the one-year anniversary of the district's relationship with the Marmot Library Network, a team of technology professionals that specialize in providing IT services for libraries. Since last March, Marmot has provided the necessary support to improve various aspects of the technology services offered throughout the county.
"One of Delta County Libraries' top priorities is patron privacy," Travis says. "It is astonishing to witness how many people inadvertently leave their accounts signed in and their information viewable to anyone that follows. In order to ensure that no patron information is left behind and no nasty virus has invaded, the software provided by Marmot guarantees that each computer is recycled and restarted in a clean state between each patron use."
The software also serves as a way of monitoring usage times. "Prior to the installation, there was a good possibility that there would not be a computer available at our busy locations due to some users utilizing a computer most or all of the day. With the new software, patrons are more aware of their usage times and staff no longer has the responsibility to monitor patrons, asking them to vacate work stations so that others can be accommodated." Currently, patrons are allowed up to two hours of uninterrupted computer use every day with the new software.
Along with improved patron privacy and tracking usage, one of the biggest accomplishments since the addition of Marmot to library IT services is the recent replacement of 30 old, worn out PCs with like-new computers, refurbished and installed by Marmot. This was done at a fraction of the anticipated cost and included beefed up RAM and solid state hard drives for each machine.
The new software and refurbished computers that Marmot has provided also come with a level of additional service and support that is essential for Delta County Libraries as it looks toward a future of quickly evolving technology and a public that relies on it. "What I personally find the most valuable about the Marmot relationship is the timely access to solutions for most of our technology needs," Travis states. "Being able to access five technologically advanced brains that are available to us any time or day or week is essential if a problem is beyond my scope."
The five Marmot representatives who are assigned to Delta County Libraries, along with a host of other qualified staff, can also monitor, update and maintain all of the libraries PC's remotely. The value of this level of support ensures that no matter what the day may bring, the community will always have safe, quality access to public computers and internet.