Friday, July 20, 2007

Software for libraries

I read about a public library in Maryland (Howard County Library) that has moved to an Ubuntu Linux based application (known as Groovix) for its public access computers.

Excerpts from the article:
"After I saw the Groovix deployment, with RealPlayer and other media support, there was no turning back. We begin piloting in January and it went effortlessly." De Groff tested the operating system on her existing hardware, upgrading the RAM from 128MB to 512MB. "The bulk of them are Dell GX150s with some GX100s," she says. "The newest machines are four years old." De Groff also added GCompris, a GPLed educational software package for children that includes more than 80 games."

Also, words of advice on learning what your patrons are actually doing on the computers as opposed to what the library staff thinks they are doing:

"We talked to our staff and they said the customers were searching the catalog. But when we talked to the customers, they said, 'We're reading email and doing online banking.' And then when we tracked hits, 70% of them were to MySpace. They may also be banking and need a secure system, but the audio and video are obviously very important as well. Your feedback from the staff isn't always consistent with the data you're going to generate -– so put it all together and meet all those needs

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