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Service Learning Report

Project Overview

Project Description

In Week 10 you gave us a Rough Draft of your Service Learning Project and recieved feedback from your instructor.  Now we are asking you to prepare that Report for Publication through the Scholar Platform.  You will get one more round of feedback - this time from your Peers - and then you will make your final submission.  Refer to the Service Learning Report Assignment in Moodle for the full instructions.

Icon for Wheaton Public Library

Wheaton Public Library

Site Introduction

My site for the Service Learning Project is the Wheaton Public Library, located in Wheaton, IL. In terms of size, it is on the upper end of a mid-size library, and is not part of a consortium. It is run in the fashion of a typical public library, there is a board of trustees and staff administration. The library sees an average of 1,000 patrons per day.

I spent six week learning and volunteering at the library as part of this project. I got involved here basically by asking. I sent an E-Mail to the director explaining the situation and what I was looking to do. The director put me in touch with the assistant director, and I went in to meet with her and the IT manager, Ed. Both of them were very nice and open to whatever I needed to do for my project. It actually struck me as a bit odd, that I’m just some random guy coming in to talk to them, and next thing I know I’m in the server room.

There is a lot of technology at work in the library, and a skilled staff administers it. Let's take a closer look at what the library has in the way of technology in the next section.

Technology Inventory

This section provides an overview of all the technology at work in the Wheaton Public Library. Please scroll or use the sidebar to navigate the Technology Inventory.


There are over one hundred computers in use throughout the library. This section breaks down where they are and what they do.

Tech Center

The main traditional computer lab in the library is called the Tech Center. It houses approximately 30 computers, all of them PCs running Windows 7. The computers are dual core Intel Core i3 CPUs with 8GB of RAM.

Patrons are allowed to use a computer for up to 3 hours each day. Non-cardholders can request a guest pass, without any need for identification, and receive up to 3 hours of computer time. The library also has an option for people who have a Wheaton address, but are unable to obtain a library card. These users can register with a state ID and then use that ID number to logon to computers as if they had a library card. This makes it so that they don't have to request a guest pass day after day.

Youth Services

Youth services has the next highest concentration of computers, about 10 of them loaded and ready to go with Minecraft and other edutainments titles.

These PCs are also Core i3 with 8GB of RAM and Windows 7.


The library runs 6 rack-mounted servers. These are used for the staff and public networks, as well as the DMZ. The library also runs its own in-house web server. Another server is used for the self-checkout machines. The servers can handle redundant workloads and serve as back-ups to each other if one fails.


The library has 20 laptops that users can check out and use anywhere in the building. They have the same 3 hour time restrictions as the desktop PCs.

The laptop specs are Intel Core i5 processors with 8GB of RAM. They run Windows 10. Interestingly, they are running the release version of Windows 10, not 2016's Anniversary Update or 2017's Creator Update. Thanks to some bugs with this version of Windows, there is an issue with the permissions enabled on the laptop user accounts that prevents the Windows Start Menu or Live Tiles from working. One can open the menu and click around trying to start a program, but nothing will happen.

Staff has worked around this issue by placing shortcuts to various programs onto the desktop, and those function properly. The plan is to upgrade them to the latest version of Windows 10 within the next two months and see if that resolves the problem.

Staff Computers

Each staff desk and office has at least one computer at it, the total being around 60. Staff computers are a combination of i3 and i5 CPU PCs that run a mixture of Windows 7 and Windows 10. These computers do not suffer from the same curious permission issues that the laptops have.

Other Computers

There are various and sundry other PCs situated throughout the library of various age and specs for catalog searching, genealogy use, and 10-minue “quick access” stations.

iPod Touch

There are 15 iPod Touches that users can check out and bring out of the library building. Ed, the IT Manager, showed me the administration software they use with the iPods. Staff has locked down most of the functionality of the devices. Users are able to use pre-loaded apps to access library services such as electronic magazines, books, newspapers, audiobooks, and more.

The administration software also tracks battery levels, and the iPods themselves, so at the time I saw it, one was connected to a wifi network in Michigan with a battery level of 54%.

The library is planning on swapping the iPods for iPads within the next few months. The staff already uses a number of iPads for various tasks.


The library has 4 1st-gen Rokus that it loans out. They are loaded with the library’s own digital collection, so any time a DVD or Blu-Ray is purchased and has a code for a digital copy of the movie, that movie can be accessed via the Roku.


There are switches in the main server room, and 4 additional switch rooms throughout the library.
Currently there are 21 switches in use throughout the building with room for 40 connections in each one.

Wireless Access Points

There are 8 wireless access point sprinkled throughout the building.


There are 105 printers in the building, many configured for wireless printing. The library also has a method by which users can E-Mail files from home or attachments from their phones to the library and those documents will be added to the user's print queue.

Recently the library added a massive HP DesignJet Z5200 printer that can print posters and photos up to 44" in width and uses 8 ink cartridges. Initially this printer will be used primarily by the library's graphic designer and other staff members, but will eventually be able to be used by patrons - under staff supervision, of course.


Bring Your Own Device

All library visitors may bring in a device and connect to the wifi network, regardless of whether they are a Wheaton card holder. There are an average of 600-800 unique wireless connections per day.


There are five separate networks in the library. One is the staff network, another is the public network. These are kept separate so that there is theoreticaly no way for someone on the public network to get into the staff network.

There is a separate network for the self-checkout machines, because those machines accept credit cards to pay fines. This network needs to be in PCID compliance, which means several conditions and restrictions that aren’t needed for the other networks, so it gets to be separate.

There is a network that is used by the DMZ, web, and proxy servers, as well as the door counters. Finally there is a separate network used by the library's cafe.

Internet Connections

There are two Internet connections coming into the building. One is fiber, and that is what all the wired connections use. The other is Comcast business class, and that is what the wifi users use.
They are set-up to be redundant so that if one goes down for 15 or more seconds, the other one takes over all the traffic.

Data Back-Up

The library uses cloud back-up, and once a week they also run a good old-fashioned tape back-up. The tape is then stored


The uses something called DeepFreeze on all the public computers. This software runs every time a user logs off the computer. It wipes the hard drive restores to its pre-configured state. This ensure that anything a user might have gotten into malware-wise gets nuked when they log off, and gives everyone a “fresh” user experience each time they sign on.

Similarly, when the iPod Touches come back in, or staff are setting up a new iPod or staff iPad, they run the “Apple Configurator” on them, and restore them to whatever software and access defaults they have set. It is also the mechanism used to update and patch software on the devices.

They also use something called Ninite to quickly set-up PCs. This software lets you pick from dozens of popular programs (from web browsers to multimedia software, you name it) and install them all in one go.

User Services

The users we are serving are library patrons. Most of the questions and assistance come from Tech Center users. They generally seek help by coming up to the desk and asking. Their needs are usually along the lines of how to log on to the computers, how to print, how to use software on the computer, and how to scan and/or fax.

Many patrons come to the Tech Center with questions about ebooks and other electronic services like newspapers and magazines, and how to get them onto their devices. Others bring their own devices to the Tech Center with questions about how to use them or access things. Staff assists when possible.

Others use the Instant Message feature from the library’s website to chat with staff or E-Mail questions in. Many of these questions are about how to get and use ebooks, but there are also a lot that have to do with how to access library services, like databases, from home. Like the in-person questions, some of these messages are tech support questions unrelated to the library that staff tries to answer as best they can.

There are still a number of people who call the library with similar questions, and those calls get routed to the Tech Center.

The library's tech staff also offers one on one appointments with patrons who have questions about their devices or using library services. This is a fairly popular offering, though appointments tend to come in spurts.

Another important - but not very glamorous - service that staff offers has to do with printing. The library charges $0.10 per page for black and white and $0.25 per page for color. If a patron does not have any money on them, staff will add the print fee to the patron's account as a fine so that they can pay it at a later time, but still get their print orders.

The staff appears to be well-trained and delivers prompt and professional service to patrons. I imagine it must get tiring being asked how to print or open a PDF on a regular basis, but staff recognizes that they are there to help the patrons, and they are happy to do so. Perhaps because of that, they appreciate the more challenging questions and really go out of their way to solve them.

Activity Report

I feel like I did a lot at the library during what seems like a very short amount of time there.

My first couple of sessions were spent with the IT manager. He showed me the various server and switch rooms all around the library, as well as identified all the areas computers and other technology reside in the building. He insisted that I see all of it, and I am grateful that I did. I may build a PC from time to time, but I've never been inside a server room or seen the hardware necessary to run the network of a large operation, and it was very informative.

As I mentioned in the Technology Inventory, there are several servers. As a stand-alone library, they have everything in-house. There is a web server, two print servers (one of them is old and will be retired soon, but the IT manager has to wait for a time that he can safely transfer the remaining staff who use the current print server to the new one), and a DMZ. There are a number of virtual LANs (or VLANs) in use throughout the building. This allows the IT manager to group together computers that are not connected to the same physical switch. They telnet into a switch and set the VLAN and port configuration from the command line.

As part of my hands-on work, I got to reimage a couple PCs using Symantec Ghost. This software has saved PC configurations, so when you need to switch a PC’s use or bring in a new PC, you just boot off the network card and go through some command line prompts, which bring up a DOS-style GUI. From there you just choose what the machine is to be used for (Tech Center, staff, genealogy, etc), and it sends over the image with the software and most of the configurations ready to go.

There are some configurations that aren’t set in the image, like IP and domain, since these are machine-dependent. The IT manager does leave notes for himself on the image that pop-up on the imaged computer’s desktop and remind him what he needs to do. It is a simple matter to then enter that information manually.

Other than that, I have had several sessions out on the Tech Desk at the Tech Center. I began with shadowing the staff there for two sessions, then was allowed to handle some questions myself. Many of those interactions fall into line with what I described in the User Services section. I was able to handle most of them myself, though did frequently consult with or hand-off to staff to make sure that I was getting the right answer for the patron. It was satisfying to help people with their tech questions.

It actually provided some good hands-on experience relating to one of the themes of this class: That technology issues that seem basic and like second-nature to me are an unsurmountable obstacle to others, and it is our role as librarians to help people with these issues as much as we can so that patrons can have good outcomes and access the information they need.

It has also been useful to see what the most common questions and issues are for patrons and staff. As I mentioned before, I can already tell that ebook how-to questions are a big item for library staff. On the staff-side of things, their main issues seem to be noting which machines are acting-up the most, or what service could use improvement.

As far as things that I have produced that the library can use after I leave, I was able to give an explanation of and write a short guide for using Bloxels, a product they had recently purchased. Bloxels is a physical and digital game design tool. One can use small physical blocks that represent pixels to design characters and levels, then scan the designs into an app. Inside the app, one can animate the characters and arrange the levels, then play through and upload them. I have had previous experience with Bloxels, and no one at the library did, so I was happy to walk them through it and leave some instructions. Otherweise, the staff has a pretty good handle on things.


I have really enjoyed my experience with this project. I have learned a tremendous amount in a short period of time, and have gotten to help people out in the process. I will likely stay on and help out beyond the required 6 sessions, if only because the staff has been so kind and helpful to me, and I feel like I should be giving back more than a handful of hours.

Everything I’ve learned while doing this project is important, getting essentially a hands-on crash course in network administration has been invaluable. Receiving a first-hand look at the real issues that library patrons and staff confront when dealing with technology has also been quite illuminating. It's a great foundation that I can take into my career and hopefully build upon for many years to come.

  • Matt Matkowski