In the software industry, applications are always in a state of flux. Every time they are changed, developers release a “patch” which contains updates and fixes. Patch notes accompany a patch to let users know what’s going on.
Welcome to patch notes, a blog series dedicated to all the changes in Technology coming to a library near you! Specifically, the Auburn Hills Public Library, because that’s the website you’re on. I’m Connor McNamara, the Technology Coordinator here at AHPL.
At the beginning of this year, we knew there were a few major changes that we wanted to make to AHPL’s technology offerings. Many of these, such as upgrades to our servers, cabling, and networking gear, are behind-the-scenes changes which you may not notice right away. However, we’ve also made a lot of upgrades to things you will notice if you’re a frequent visitor of the library.
Today, I want to take a look at some of the highlights from our recent renovations that we underwent in early September. Many of these changes had been in the works for quite some time, and we’re super excited that you all now have the opportunity to get your hands on them!
The big news this month is, of course, the new website. After much hard work by both the website team, and our designers at Stirling Technologies, we were proud to finally be able to show off our new website to the world.
The website was undoubtedly a team effort, and without the hard work our Marketing Coordinator Christina Bowers, Adult/Digital Services Liaison CJ Juntunen, and IT Assistant Amanda Parry, we never would have been able to get here!
The new website features an all new look, matching our new logo and brand that Christina has been cultivating over the past few months. Beyond just aesthetics, the new website has a variety of other features, such as a new recommended reading section, which will allow us to take all the great reading recommendation handouts made by members of our staff, and put them online. This new portal will allow you to filter by genre or age, and has a stylish and modern look that compliments the branding on the site.
We’ve also rolled out study room and meeting room bookings online, in addition to an online form for our test proctoring service. We have already seen an uptick in usage of these services now that they are more accessible.
The new site also allows for a lot more flexibility in terms of advertising, allowing us to promote the services and programs that are most important to all of you!
Speaking of new services, September saw us get underway with three brand new online offerings. Creative Bug is an online classroom for art and crafts projects that we are now offering to all Auburn Hills Public Library cardholders, free of charge. You can start using Creative Bug now through the “Learn” menu on the new website! You could also click right here, since you’re reading this on our website. Isn’t the internet cool?
In addition, we also started out pilot program for Treehouse, which is another online classroom geared more toward computer programming and other technical skills. We have a limited number of licenses available, so registration for this one is a bit unusual. Visit our contact form and send an email to the Technology Services if you’re interested in trying out TreeHouse to learn some computer programming skills.
These two services will stand great on their own, but we’re very excited to pair them with some exciting new technology offerings that we have planned for next year. It’s going to be a big one, so stay tuned!
In addition to these services, we also went live with the new RBDigital Streaming service, which gives you access to select movies and video content through our existing RBDigital platform.
New PC and Print Management
One of the fundamental roles of an IT Department in any library is to provide computer and printing access to all library patrons. It’s important that the tools which manage that experience are robust enough for library staff to administer the workstations the library has, but simple and unobtrusive enough to provide a pleasant experience for all of you.
Over the summer, we started looking for a replacement for Sam, our prior PC and Print Management system. Sam was outdated, confusing for those who were not already accustomed to using it, and had limited printing options. For these reasons, we decided to explore alternatives, and found a solution from an old friend, TBS.
TBS is the same company that provides our scanning and faxing station, and they now provide our PC and Print Management tools as well. Their product, MyPC, is a tighter, leaner solution, which is easier to use and offers much more robust reporting and management features for library staff.
Printing and Guest Passes
Where this new solution really shines, however, is in print offerings. We now support full wireless printing, from any device. So whether you want to bring your own laptop in and print a document you’re working on, or if you’re just a visitor that only has their cellphone and needs to print a document from it right away, we’ve got you covered. Arguably the best part is that we now support paying for print jobs with a credit card, with no additional fees, minimums, or hold charges.
This new system also comes with a change to how we manage our computer guest passes. Since transitioning to free guest passes for all library visitors earlier this year, we’ve found it less and less necessary to send those seeking a guest pass all the way to the circulation desk for a pass to use the computer. Now that no money is changing hands, it makes the most sense to manage all of the computer related questions and resources at one desk: the information desk.
Following this line of thinking, visitors can now request guest passes from the librarians at the information desk directly.
More to Come!
We’re just getting started here in the AHPL Technology Department. While this year was all about the fundamentals, next year we already have some exciting plans to redefine what technology means in a library.
We’re always listening to patron requests, so if you have any feedback about our recent changes, or want to suggest something we should do in the future, drop us a line through the new contact form!
That’s all for today, but we’ll be back the next time we release a “Library Patch!”Return to Blog