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Systems Librarian

Public Internet Kiosks

Increasing demand for the Internet and computer services in public libraries

HP Multi-User 441 Public Internet Kiosks

The majority of low-income residents can not afford to pay for basic services; as a result information technology is out of their reach. With computers, public can type résumés, conduct business, communicate with friends, families and other cultures, and find job opportunities.

The competency in the use of information technology is increasingly recognized and valued as a basic skill and fundamental competency, ranking closely behind basic literacy and numeracy. Progress in technology and communication is changing the way we all live: how we work and do business; how we lead and govern, follow and participate as employees, members and citizens; how we educate our children, study, do research and train ourselves; how we are entertained, etc.

These are characteristics of an emerging information society, and present new challenges and opportunities for public libraries in these communities. We need to ensure that all our communities, especially the previously disadvantaged have access to computer technology and are able to enjoy the benefits of the information economy. 

In 2006 the first HP Multi-User 441 was installed and made available to the public. The first rollout had Linux (Mandrake Linux to be specific) operating system loaded. Open source was the initial plan but unfortunately Linux support was a problem and therefore HP Multi-User 441 Kiosks operating systems are running on Windows XP Professional. Currently there are 67 of the Kiosks in the libraries (that gives a total of 268 internet workstations in the 43 libraries). Internet access is available at no charge, and users are not required to be members of the library to have access. Tariffs are applied for printouts made.

441 Public Internet Kiosksa

The users computing experience
The four individual users on the HP 441 is essentially the same as it is for a single user on a standalone computer. On the HP 441, each user can simultaneously and independently run MS Office applications (Word, PowerPoint, Excel), Web browsing (surfing), e-mail, etc., with no negative effect on performance. The four individual users can send print jobs to a printer just as a single user PC can.

Hardware and Software
The HP Multi-User 441 Desktop Solution is a hardware solution that enables four people; each with a monitor, keyboard and mouse; to work simultaneously and independently on one CPU. This is a cheaper option for making internet accessible to the public as you save costs on hardware (eliminating three out of four CPUs), operating system and applications software (only need to purchase one licence therefore avoiding expensive software licenses).

How does the HP 441 compare to thin clients:

  • the HP 441 is more cost-effective than thin clients
  • thin client technology requires a powerful server, special networking equipment and technical expertise
  • the HP 441 is better designed for graphics-intensive and multimedia applications, and users can still access and use applications locally even if the server or network is down
  • the HP 441 is also more flexible than thin clients (it can be set up as a standalone system)

441 Public Internet Kiosksb



  • Limited space in libraries
  • Internet bandwidth (Connectivity) is slow and frustrating users
  • Staff assistance (not enough library staff to help/train user’s full time)

Date: 29 November 2008

A Librarian's Guide To The Internet

A Librarian's Guide To The Internet

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  A Librarian's Guide To The Internet

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