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Multi-Platform Mobile Training Environment

Stark County District Library
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Innovation Leader: Dee Rondinella, Technology Training Coordinator & Emerging Systems Administrator, drondinella@starklibrary.org

Problem Statement

The Stark County District Library (SCDL) offers a very popular technology training program. This high-demand program was limited by the availability of only 10 laptops and needed to be expanded. The laptops were running Windows and Microsoft Office which meant they were tied up in Windows Policy to keep the laptops secure. This Policy made it impossible for customers to practice some skills such as downloading software or accessing the library’s eBooks. Additionally, the training classes were limited to Microsoft products. Local schools have Mac products in the classroom but the Library was unable to develop any specific training for them. Due to the economy, SCDL wanted to introduce customers to open source (free) solutions like Ubuntu, but that was not possible with the training laptops. Finally, switching from training in the public environment to training in the staff environment was very time-intensive and cumbersome which limited the trainers’ scheduling options.

Innovation

With a grant from the Praxair Foundation along with some local funds, SCDL purchased 20 MacBook Pros. These laptops, through the use of Virtual Box software have the ability to run three Operating Systems simultaneously; OSX (Mac), Windows (Microsoft), and Ubuntu (Open Source). Additionally, the Windows OS can be simultaneously run in separate Staff and Patron configurations. Rather than just purchasing more, newer laptops, SCDL’s Information Technology team worked to find innovative software and hardware solutions to the limitation facing the technology training program.

Progress

The multi-platform training lab has allowed the Library Trainer to demonstrate real-life examples of basic technology functions. Students can download, print, and run software without risking any security breach. Also, training was been offered in alternative operating systems and software environments. The Library has held a class on Ubuntu and based on customer response has scheduled more. SCDL’s training options have been expanded to include classes for the iWork suite, iLife suite, and iPhoto suite. Switching from staff classes to public classes requires a fraction of the time which allows greater flexibility for the trainer. In the end, a purchase which could have been just an expansion of this program also provided room for improvement, greater efficiency, and innovation.