The overall goal of this project is to make the Urbana Free Library (UFL) computer lab a more user-friendly and usable space. To this end, we will be focusing on the space and layout of the lab as well as the ease of tech support??
The mission of The Urbana Free Library is:
To select, acquire, organize, and promote the use of a wide range of books and other communications media in order to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens within its taxing jurisdiction.
To provide the physical space necessary for citizens to consult library materials in comfort and to meet with one another as part of the Urbana community.
To provide unusually friendly and personal service to all Library users.
In establishing this general mission statement, the Library recognizes that public libraries are institutions with multiple goals, providing a wide range of services to a wide range of individuals, that no simple mission statement can encompass the entire range of appropriate Library activities, and that the evaluation of the relative merit of Library activities is a complex process that will of necessity involve the continued attention of the Board of Trustees and the Library staff.
Technology Vision Statement
In keeping with this mission, The Urbana Free Library is committed to the use of technology to improve the quality, scope, and efficiency of library services. The library continually reviews and adopts new technology to enhance the library experience of its users, to help library users achieve their goals, to improve access to information, and to improve employees’ ability to perform their duties.
Population(s) served (Specifically by the computer lab)
- UFL staff are reluctant to generalize about user populations saying that a very diverse group of people use the computers. However, they estimate that 50% of users are African American (a higher percentage than the general population.
- The majority of lab users are there because they have no other access to computers/internet
Specific groups of note:
- Teens: In the afternoon, the lab is frequented by many students from the local middle/high schools. (This can create problems)
- Job seekers: Many users search for/apply for jobs in the lab. This group often needs special resources/attention.
Ways in which technology is expected to support existing programs
The way the system is designed now, each computer needs to be updated individually, which often results in the machines not being able to serve patrons effectively. In one particular case, Parkland students often need to access specific programs and websites associated with textbooks (perhaps that require the latest versions of Java or other programs) and aren’t able to because the computers are not always up to date.
By and large, the lab computers contain programs that serve basic computer needs: word processing (MS Office, OpenOffice), internet access (IE, FireFox), and several media players (VLC, iTunes, RealPlayer). There are also options for editing and creating media (Audacity, Adobe, CDBurnerXP). Since the primary users of these machines don’t have access to computers at home, these programs serve their basic needs (e.g. updating resumes, checking e-mail).
At this time, we are not focusing on implementing new technology so much as supplementing what already exists. We hope that what we add can lead to new programming in the future.
First thoughts on technologies you are considering as part of
- We primarily want to look for technologies that are going to make the entire lab more usable
- Some way to network the computers or use a virtual set-up in order to update everything at once – there is software available that allows you to set up one workstation and then duplicate it to many other computers (e.g. Ghost software)
- Possibly tweak security settings of Steady State in order to allow patrons to download certain programs
- Most lab management software seems to be for teachers/classrooms so it allows for screen sharing, locking users out, etc. – stuff the library is not really interested in! (don’t need this much control)
- Not much in the way of “job-hunting” software but can make a point to have resume templates, links to job sites, and more
- For teens the more intense monitoring might be acceptable – if time is available, we may also want to focus on media creation and display
- Simple “technology” such as screen blockers
First thoughts on design considerations for your project plan
- Looking at floor plans–this will give us plenty of information on the space that we want to work with. We’ve talked to John and other librarians about the spaces that we could probably use, and the places that will not work.
- Survey some areas in the library and get an ideal on the space we can use.
- Looking at other libraries like Champaign Public Library and other libraries to see how their teen and adult areas are set-up. Also, we will find out if the design of these spaces are working well for these libraries.
The student group will:
- Produce project plans detailing
- New computer lab layout (possibly including a space for job hunters)
- Separate teen lab space
- Create a list of technology recommendations to foster
- Efficient usability and administration of the lab
- Patron job searching
The organization needs to:
- Provide feedback
- Provide supporting information (such as maps, user needs, etc.)