Over at librarian.net there's an interesting discussion about how to make online games available without compromising computer security. The overall recommendation is to allow access to online games that are truly online but not to allow any downloading. Library staff describe their experience with games and software such as DeepFreeze, Centurion, and the Shared Computer Toolkit.
The computer and the internet are wonderful tools, but what do you do if you have limited vision?
If you’re able to read this using a DSL or cable internet connection, consider yourself lucky. Many Americans still don’t have access to high speed lines and are still relying on dial up. For communities tired of waiting for the local cable or phone companies to provide service there’s another alternative. This information is particularly useful for rural libraries who may be required to provide high speed access.
In the Appalachian area of Ohio, Bob Dixon and Alan Escovitz from Ohio State University are pioneers. They refer to their project as “rural datafication”, a play off of the effort to bring electricity to remote areas during the New Deal referred to as “rural electrification”. They are bringing broadband Internet connectivity to rural communities such as Chesterhill using satellite technology. Funding from the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) enabled them to purchase the hardware, Dixon and Escovitz volunteered their time to train a local technician and they worked together to install it. The satellite dish, only three feet wide, is located behind the library connected to an antenna on the roof. It sends a signal to another antenna on top of the water tower. This broadcasts a wireless signal for several miles providing access to those with a special antenna. This has enabled businesses to flourish and the community to stay connected and participate in distance education programs.
While I was talking to Amanda Taylor, Head Librarian of Concordia Parish, Louisiana, she mentioned a clever way of using keychain drives for her PAC network.
Librarian in Black mentions Robin Hastings’ pointer to Craythur.com , an apparent web-based OS. There are others, such as eyeOS As Robin says “I can see this being REALLY helpful for the library’s non-computer owning patrons. Right now, everything that the OS promises to do (calendaring functions, notes, etc.) is available on widely scattered services around the ‘net. This would let them continue to use those services, but keep them all in one place. I can’t see - as it is right now - most computer owning folks finding it really useful, but I can see the patrons at public libraries snapping up the opportunity to have all their online tools in one, easy interface.”
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.
The 2006 Public Library and the Internet Survey http://www.ii.fsu.edu/plinternet_reports.cfm, explores the impacts and benefits that communities derive from public library connectivity. One of the most significant findings is the vital role that public libraries serve in providing access to government services such as Medicare Part D, and federal insurance following disasters such as Hurrican Katrina.