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January 13, 2016

Technology Upgrades Improve Library Resources

by Murray Bishoff

Computer upgrades, replacing public units continuing

Technology improvements continue at branches of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library.

Information technology manager J.J. Goulbourne reported that the library service will need to continue to evolve to keep up with changes in the Internet and social media.

"We will need to continue to provide the necessary services for equipment for customers to have access as well as provide information and education on the proper use of the web and social media as it relates to children and teens," he said.

Technology Assistant Lee Ann Rosewicz completed upgrading all the library district computers to Windows 10, except for the circulation and catalogue computers. The Library Center, which provided the machines, did not guarantee those units were compatible with the upgrade.

Using funds donated by the late Senator Emory Melton, three children's computer stations are being installed in the Cassville Branch Library. They replace the learning computers acquired through AWE Acquisition, which cost approximately $3,000 each. The new computers are All-In-One units from Dell, purchased for $447 each with a four-year warranty. Software was purchased separately for approximately $150.

Staff replaced the office printer and fax machine at the Pierce City Branch Library with a spare All-In-One unit. The nine-year-old office printer and fax were both approaching the end of life, Goulbourne reported.

Goulbourne completed mounting all the IT equipment on the walls at the Aurora Branch Library to give the staff more work room. An eighth public Internet computer was added at the Mt. Vernon Branch Library. Six more Kindle Fire tablets were acquired for the system by November and were distributed to the smaller branches for customer use.

Savings will come to the library as a result of negotiations to provide Internet service to the Cassville Branch Library. MoreNET, the state organization that manages Internet service, signed a new deal with Mediacom to replace the previous contract with CenturyLink, which expired in December. The new contract will cost the library $300 less in the coming year. Mediacom has done other work for the Barry-Lawrence system of late, having completed installing a fiber connection to the Miller Branch.

Looking ahead, Goulbourne completed the grant application for funding through the Library Services and Technology Act federal grant program, administered through Missouri State Library state grant program. Goulbourne is seeking funding to acquire 10 new computer servers, one for each branch. He is also seeking funding for new managed network switches to replace aging ones, and replacing older wireless access points.

With the potential of other technology grant money available, Goulbourne is reviewing replacing some of the 38 older public use workstations and public use printers. He indicated that phasing in replacements represented a reasonable strategy. Five printers that will need replacement are in the Mt. Vernon, Shell Knob, Purdy, Pierce City and Cassville branches.

The impact of technology on general activity in the library system appeared evident in the summary reports. Director Gina Milburn noted that checkouts of E-materials, which includes E-books, downloadable audio books and streaming video available through the Missouri Library to Go consortium, have grown to 1,693, almost double from the end of 2014. Wireless Internet use continues to rise, especially since all branches now provide the service.

"The branches report that while customers don't always check out material, they are in the branches for a variety of reasons," Milburn said. "Statistics don't always reflect in-house usage. [During November] the branches provided 177 programs for 4,037 customers, further demonstrating the vitality of library service."