Finkelstein Memorial Library sits in the heart of Rockland County, just up the Hudson from New York City. The library is one of the largest in the county and regularly sets records for annual visits, serving 400,000 visitors last year alone. The library prides itself on its substantial collection, the variety of community programs offered, and their commitment to providing cutting-edge opportunities for learning. Public computer access has been an integral part of Finkelstein’s services for the past ten years.
With the growth of the Internet, demand for computer access has grown exponentially. Initially, Finkelstein was prepared for the problems presented by this new technology, but found challenges emerging in places they never expected.
As Internet use increased at the library, Vera Curry, Head of Automated Services, and her staff began to run out of both physical space and IP addresses. Deploying computers for public use quickly became a necessity but was increasingly becoming a burden on both the library’s resources and the IT staff’s time. In order for Finkelstein to maintain the high quality of service provided, they needed a comprehensive solution.
Initially, it was the space savings of Userful Desktop that caught Ms. Curry’s eye when she saw the system at the Computers in Libraries Conference, 2004. This provided an answer to many of the challenges that Finkelstein was facing. “The fact that Userful Desktop allows multiple people to work from a single computer means we can install more stations on our current budget and space availability. Our patrons appreciate the additional stations. I appreciate that I can offer them without increasing the number of IP addresses and, more importantly, not creating more work for my staff.”
Included with Userful Desktop is a comprehensive support package which drastically reduces the time library staff spends managing their public stations. Every year libraries invest thousands of hours patching, upgrading and updating their public computers. Public computers typically require lockdown software to protect patrons’ privacy, making public computing far more time- consuming to update than personal computers. Userful Desktop is unique because Userful supplies all patches, upgrades and updates remotely, with no additional charge to the library. Librarian workload is greatly reduced so that staff can spend more time helping patrons.
While Finkelstein Memorial Library found Userful Desktop a “time saver”, Ms. Curry and her staff also appreciated the comprehensive public access features bundled with the system. Features such as: a Print Cost Control pop-up window to prevent unwanted printing, a flexible session timer that ensures patrons stick to their allotted time, and an End of Day Logout feature to ensure the library can close on time. It also comes with privacy protection, lock-down software, and CIPA compliant web filtering. Patrons also benefit from Userful’s comprehensive system. Over 40 applications are pre-installed at each station including an office suite, web browser, photo editor, email client, chat, games, and more, all with multilingual options.
With Userful Desktop, Finkelstein Memorial Library has found a way to expand their public computer services within their space restrictions and without creating more work for the staff. With the implementation of Userful Desktop, Finkelstein is ready for the future; a future that will inevitably demand more from their public access computers. Reviewing Finkelstein’s decision to implement Userful Desktop*, Ms. Curry concludes that, “It is always nice to get more for your money.”