Managing Public Computing · 19
Survey Questions and Responses
SPEC Survey on Managing Public Computing was designed by Michael Cook, Head of Public
Computing, Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University, and Mark Shelton, Leader, Media Services,
at Brown University. These results are based on data submitted by 69 of the 123 ARL member libraries
(56%) by the deadline of August 13, 2007. The survey’s introductory text and questions are reproduced
below, followed by the response data and selected comments from the respondents.
The focus of this survey is the management of library public computing, i.e., those computers that are located in public spaces
for use by patrons, as distinct from staff computers and servers. The survey authors have seen dramatic growth in public
computing and its demands for support and related services in their libraries and want to know if this is happening elsewhere.
Wireless computing permeates their libraries, each semester library users are more tech-savvy than before, and the demand for
expertise on all technical fronts is rising quickly. This environment presents a wide range of challenges to academic and research
library staff and administrators. In an environment that demands more of the resources, the infrastructure, and the staff who
work to keep public computing the stable and reliable door to all things digital in the library, how are libraries managing and
supporting public computing to meet the needs and expectations of today’s library user?
This survey is designed to provide a snapshot of the current state of public computing in ARL libraries and to gather information
on the scope of the services provided and the practices applied to manage and support public computing. The survey seeks to
The scale of the library public computing operation—number of libraries, number of public computers and printers, etc.
Staffing &organizational structure—how many and what kind of staff are involved, which staff are responsible for support-
ing public computing, what support services they provide, what other library technology responsibilities they have, which staff
are the first to be approached by users with technology questions, problems, and support needs, etc.
Budgeting &upgrades—have budgets for public computing changed in any way over the past two years? How frequently are
upgrades done to computers and software?
Security &maintenance—do users log in to use computers and/or the network? Are computers secured using imaging soft-
ware or other techniques? What kinds of network security are used to combat viruses, file sharing, etc.?
Policies—are there policies in place for public computing? How current are the policies? How are these created?
Assessment/measurement of success—does the library conduct surveys, focus groups, etc. to determine outcomes of the
introduction of new services, hardware, software, etc.? Are usage statistics gathered? How are complaints handled?
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