For years, UK Libraries provided open (non-authenticated) computers for use by UK-affiliated and non-affiliated patrons alike. Anyone who came in to any campus library could use any public computer. This practice was in keeping with our Land Grant mission to serve library users state-wide. However, this system contributed to access problems for our primary user base: University of Kentucky students. Students complained that patrons not affiliated with the university were monopolizing computers for hours on end, making it sometimes difficult for a student to find an open machine. Other university and public libraries across the country have seen similar usage issues.
Our solution at UK was a phased approach. First, we changed most public machines in our libraries to use UK’s authentication system, allowing access to those machines by current UK students, staff and faculty only. A smaller sub-set of machines was left available for the general public, with no authentication requirement. This approach significantly eased access for students. However, the fewer “open” machines were still frequently occupied for long periods, making it difficult for visitors – including non-affiliated researchers who had come to campus specifically to do library research – to gain access to a machine.
Earlier this year, UK Libraries implemented the second phase of our PC access solution, to improve access to computers reserved for non-UK-affiliated users. We have installed metering software on public computers in Young Library. All library users not affiliated with UK can obtain a library card and log in to these computers with their card number and password. The metering software – iTS:MyPC – limits patron use of computers to a specific number of minutes. The new software was implemented in Young Library initially but will eventually be put in place in other libraries in the system. So far the system appears to be working quite well, allowing more visitors to campus access to computer resources for conducting library research.
The final phase in our access plan will be to create OPAC-only machines, for users who need quick access to search the library catalog in order to access materials in the building. We hope to have OPAC-only computers available in Young Library sometime during the summer.
As these new procedures and policies are implemented throughout the system, patrons may ask for information about why we are making changes and how the changes will affect their access. If you have questions yourself, please contact Library Technologies for more information.