RE: [Videolib] Wireless networks in libraries

Bergman, Barbara J (barbara.bergman@mnsu.edu)
Mon, 13 Dec 2004 14:19:35 -0600

Jim,
Not quite the same situation since I'm in an academic library, but...

Our campus is wireless throughout the campus, including the library
building. The network is open to students and staff. There is no
filtering.

We do circulate laptops (48 hour loan). And have a love/hate
relationship with them. Although it's a great service, we find it to be
a major headache for several reasons. I'd advise you to think twice
unless you have staff who can spend the majority of their day handling
the computers. Things to consider if you purchase some laptop computers:

- When buying, look at the warranty and service package. You want the
best you can find. We have Dell's with the service agreement that covers
pretty much everything but theft and complete annihilation. (If you can
produce a computer, they'll deal with it. We once had them replace a
computer that had been run over by a car.) More common replacements have
been things such as faulty batteries or problems with screens or
keyboards.
- Are you prepared for ongoing maintenance costs? Replacing batteries,
lost power supplies and other parts.
- Unless you lock down the configuration, users will download, etc. For
short-tem loans, Deep Freeze (which resets everything at Shut
Down/Restart) is good, but because our loans are longer, we have to
manually run a ghost image to reset the configuration after each return.

- Our demand is much higher than supply. Do you do advance reservations
or do you make available first-come? Both create problems-- a booked
computer not returned by the time it's needed is a problem; but with a
first-come policy, it means people have to wait & those who have time to
wait always get one.
- How will you handle overdues? We've had to keep raising the overdue
fines. Currently $25 per day the minute it's late. When computer fines
were $5/day, we had people who didn't care about other user's
reservations and were too willing to pay fine.
- And one that we never dreamt of -- Does the patron need a computer or
does he really just want portable DVD player?

It's one thing to say you don't help with configuration, etc., of
personal laptops. Quite another situation when you have people asking
all the time...

Good luck,
Barb

Barb Bergman
Media Services Librarian
Minnesota State University-Mankato
(507) 389-5945

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