Technology innovation helps local library service

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New Wifi service, computers, bandwidth helping patrons

Technology innovations headed by J.J. Goulbourne, new information technology manager, has expanded a number of available services at branches of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library system.

Patrons at library branches have waited mornings for staff that came in early to run anti-virus software daily on computers. Thanks to a re-configuration of the anti-virus software, computers can stay on overnight for scanning, allowing for their immediate use in the mornings.

Multiple requests for wireless Internet access by Pierce City Branch customers led to installation of a temporary connection. According to Director Gina Milburn, the connection received 67 password requests in June, compared to 90 for the larger Mt. Vernon Branch. Milburn chose to make the service ongoing, especially at the nominal cost of $89 for the year plus a $5 maintenance fee.

Due to increased demand for bandwidth at several branches, Internet connections on the circulation terminals at the regional office led to a bottleneck. A request to nearly double the bandwidth at the Monett, Cassville and Aurora branches was made. Milburn said the cost of the bandwidth increase varies, due to periodic rebates available through the Remote Electronic Access for Libraries and other government funding sources. The Monett Branch, with the central office, rose from 10 megabytes of bandwidth to 20, and will eventually ramp up to 50 to support the entire network, Milburn said. Both Cassville and Aurora rose to 5 megabytes.

"The cost is going to be considerably more, but sometimes, if a provider changes a line, the price may drop," Milburn said. "We decided we have to find a way to pay for it. We're going to need better bandwidth."

Technology still offers its own challenges. Milburn reported a major power outage in West Virginia caused circulation functions to go offline for an entire day.

Goulbourne's assistance enabled the district to make continued use of two older public access computers at the Aurora Branch. Goulbourne upgraded memory in the units and installed new operating systems at a cost of $12 each. He has since acquired other computers from schools and other sources where he networked, bringing additional, newer equipment to the system previously unavailable.

"There was no way that could have happened without him," Milburn said.

Since starting with the system, Goulbourne completed deploying software to monitor computers in all the branches. Minor updates can now be made through remote access, eliminating the need for personnel to travel for certain tasks. One of the two old servers replaced in the central office upgrade now serves as a network storage device for the regional office and Monett Branch staff, providing a more secure storage method than using flash drives.

An additional phone line directly to the information technology office now enables staff in the branches to contact Goulbourne directly, instead of calling the main line in Monett.

Sofnet won the contract to install a new phone system at branches, while converting to Suddenlink as the provider. Softnet won the job as the only local bidder with a good price, Milburn said, at a cost around $4,400. Sofnet completed installation in July for the Monett, Aurora, Pierce City and Marionville branches.

The library board will next meet at 9 a.m. on Aug. 20 at the Pierce City Branch. The annual tax levy hearing will be held at that time.

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