Keeping up with the material and technical demands of your Public Access Computing stations can be difficult, particularly for “accidental techie” librarians and those on a tight budget. In our interviews, we’ve found a number of ways librarians have used to handle this – an interesting variation being contracting for machines, software and support in one bundled package which is meant to ease all of their problems.
Debra Lewis, Head Librarian for Pflugerville, TX, has done just that – and she couldn’t be happier. She recently purchased 32 Discoverstation systems from Userful. Discoverstation is a turnkey “total solution” package for PAC in libraries, generally using a thin client setup and central IT support. A complete, Linux based, application suite is included – which the patrons have easily and comfortably adapted to.
There are many variations on this theme:
- Companies like Wyse & Veicon provide similar thin-client services, based around Windows software
- TechnologyRescue.com is a smaller firm which specializes in retrofitting your obsolescent hardware with Linux, turning them into more efficient and stable thin clients. (Discoverstation software can be installed on legacy hardware, as well).
If you’re interesting in learning more, WebJunction has a number of articles on thin clients, and courses on Linux. TechSoup has an article on the practical differences between the MS Office Suite and Open Office. In a survey on transitioning to thin clients in an academic environment, Helene Gold of Eckerd College found some interesting results.
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