Friday, November 24, 2006

Return of the Coinbox

The 23 Waterloo Public Library PACs (Public Access Computers) have a new Internet homepage today: the Waterloo Public Library Reference Department blog. This tool will make it easier for staff to get messages to you, and the "comments" link at the bottom of each page will make it easier for you to speak with us. If you have a yearning for the old home page, there's a link just above this article and another one in the "Links" section just below the "Contributors" block. We'll run the blog for a few months and will then decide whether or not it's worth continuing.

We have lots of news today: the coinbox which controls the print-release station is back from the repair depot in Texas. For the past month or so all public access computers have been on bypass (also known as the "honor system"), and color printing has been disabled. I took advantage of the library's Thanksgiving holiday to plug it in and to reconfigure the server to once again accept money for printing.

The box, a Jamex purchased by the Friends of the Library back in 2002, has controlled the printing of more than a half-million sheets of paper--that's enough to stretch from the library parking lot to downtown Des Moines! It was more than ready for an over-haul; let's hope the technicians got everything put back together correctly.

While I was at it, I also added the six Learning Center computers to the group of PACs controlled by the Pharos reservation system. The added machines should reduce the length of the queue and will also cut back on the congestion near the reservation station.

The Learning Center will still be used for tutoring and training as the reservation system allows us to make "block" reservations. Currently, the Learning Center computers are reserved each Monday and Wednesday afternoon, 2:50-7:00 p.m. The Learning Center may also be reserved at other times by our trainers. This may seem a bit inconvenient, however, it's a small price to pay for gaining another 250-300 hours of PAC access each week!

That's all for now, but we'll try to post messages every couple of days or so. If you wish to communicate with us, use the comments button at the bottom of the page, or send an email to

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