As libraries continue planning for the reopening of their buildings, we’ve been talking to our netloan customers about how best to organise their libraries’ computer services. This is a high priority area for libraries – a recent library poll organised by bibliotheca put PCs and printing at the top of the list of services to provide when reopening. It will provide vital support for jobseekers, the digitally excluded and all others who have struggled without computers and broadband through lockdown.
There’s lots of useful guidance on how to provide safe access to computers in the Library Service Recovery Toolkit from Libraries Connected. Published yesterday, it stresses the essential nature of the People’s Network and sets out the considerations for providing access. There’s a clear expectation that demand for this access will rise due to the increased number of people seeking work and benefits.
“The size of the digital divide has been brought into sharp relief by the crisis, and libraries have a key role to play in supporting more people to get online and develop digital confidence."
Library Service Recovery Toolkit from Libraries Connected
Recent figures show that 2.5 million households claimed Universal Credit since mid March. Unfortunately headlines are looming large of many more job losses ahead before we recover from the effects of this pandemic.
So public computer access in the library for helping jobseekers and others in need is critically important. We’re pleased to assist our customers with advice on ensuring each user’s computer session is a safe one, and welcomed hearing from all those who have already got in touch. If you haven’t spoken with our support team or seen our guidance so far, here’s a summary of information and ideas on how best to provide safe PC access. It includes approaches already in place or being planned for by our customer libraries, as well as best practice advice from the netloan team at Lorensbergs. More detailed netloan support is also available – please just ask!
Social distancing and cleaning
With social distancing measures being a key part of reopening plans, there are some changes that are likely to be needed in many library branches. Here are some options:
Broken unit functionality
If you're concerned that your PCs do not have the minimum social distance between them, and it's not possible to space them further apart, netloan's Broken unit feature prevents PCs from being booked in advance or logged into. The broken unit screen also automatically appears on the selected units. This offers a practical and flexible way of managing use without the need to remove the terminals from the library floor.
For libraries using the Broken unit functionality, the reporting in netloan gives a very useful overview of their PC estate and status of each unit. We’re also able to provide advice on accurate usage reporting during this time as needed.
Flexibility for PC session length
It may be necessary to restrict users’ time on computers to ensure there’s fair access, meet demand and avoid the library becoming too busy. However, it’s clear that some users will be unable to achieve what they need to do in a shorter session than usual – benefit applications for example can often take two hours or more. If you would like further information on how to configure netloan to meet such requirements, please get in touch.
Allowing for cleaning
Netloan’s booking functionalities fit well with the guidance from the Libraries Connected toolkit. It’s easy to schedule access for each user with intervals giving time to vacate the workstation and for cleaning to take place between sessions. There are a number of ways to organise this pattern of use to fit in with available staffing levels, cleaning regimes and use of self-service. Our support team will be happy to advise you further.
The cleaning of mice, monitors, keyboards, desks and chairs will all need consideration. If you're not able to employ a specialist hardware cleaner, we recommend contacting your keyboard manufacturer for advice on best materials to use. For example, guidance from Logitech and Apple both suggest isopropyl alcohol wipes and disinfecting wipes.
Naturally, care must be taken not to damage or discolour the equipment during cleaning! Another approach would be to use silicone keyboard covers which can be removed and washed as needed.
Role of Self-service
Listening to our customers, it’s anticipated that self-service will be the preferred method for print payments and book issue/return, mostly for how it reduces direct interactions with staff. For advice on keeping your self-service kiosks clean and safe to use, here's a Covid-19 update from bibliotheca.
It’s a good idea to encourage users to book PC time in advance as far as possible. Not only does this make use of self-service, it avoids delays to getting on to a PC on arrival. If users are encouraged to plan their visits and book ahead, their visits to the library will be quicker, making it easier for staff to manage user flow.
Many libraries provide the netloan PC booking portal from their websites. For support and advice getting this live on your website, please contact us right away.
Another way to help customers plan ahead is to remind them that PC sessions can be booked using the netloan reservation grid on the kiosk screen when enabled. So if a customer turns up and all computers are taken, they can use the kiosk to search for and book future free slots and so plan when to return.
Keeping customers informed
There are a number of opportunities in netloan for keeping customers informed of health and safety guidance or service changes. These include messages at computer login, shortly before log out time, on computer screens between users, as part of the AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) and online when making advance bookings. These places might be useful for reminding users to vacate their seat promptly at the end of a PC session for cleaning, to use hand sanitiser made available by the library, or to book their next session at the kiosk etc.
We hope you find the information above useful when planning the reopening of your buildings. For further advice on managing library computer session times, user communications, and reporting, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise you.