Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday @ the WPL

We had another busy day in the Waterloo Public Library Reference Department. Within 10 minutes of opening, 15 computers were in use; we had 100% usage on the public machines by 1:30 p.m. and the queue remained occupied through 4:30. The 6 Learning Center PCs were in use by 2:00 p.m. By the afternoon's end, WPL patrons had completed more than 75 sessions.

Staff and patrons combined to run an astounding 3.2 GB through the firewall's external interface. It's hard to believe that only a few years ago the library rarely exceeded 500 MB per month. The big increase in performance can be attributed to two big advances: First, instead of sharing a T1 line with other libraries we now have access to dedicated 10MB ethernet connection. Second, we have an excellent collection of Pentium 4 computers with at least a gigabyte of RAM.

Despite the tremedous amount of work accomplished by scores of patrons, a couple of people did have problems. One young lady couldn't access data on her diskette drive. The diskette, which appeared to be a hand-me-down from her grandmother's college days, was not recognized by our drives.

I wasn't able to help her, but I did have some advice: Instead of using a diskette to transfer data, I suggested that she acquire and use a thumb drive. Even the smallest thumb drive has greater data capacity than a 3.5" diskette. The thumb drive is also much more reliable and, if you figure the price per megabyte of storage, far cheaper.

Yet another reason for changing from diskettes to thumb drives is that the WPL will soon (February 1, 2007) disable the diskette drives on all public access computers. So, if you want to bring data to the WPL computers, bring it on a thumb drive, or post it to yourself as an email which you may then download for editing. Frankly, when I know that I'm going to want to access data from a remote site, I save it to Google Docs.

However, that's a topic for another blog.

View My Stats