To lease or not to lease. That was the big question posed at the July Spring Valley Public Library Board of Trustees’ meeting as they considered the options for patron computer replacement last Thursday evening.
Southeast Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) user technology manager Michael Flores appeared before the board to share what SELCO could do to help the library in its quest to update its vintage-2006 patron computers from the now-obsolete Windows XP operating system to a current system. He cited that the board could choose to purchase or lease computers, and he shared the costs involved with doing either one.
“In April, Microsoft decided to end support for XP, and that means they stopped putting up security updates, which makes the computers very vulnerable to hackers. The computers you have right now were purchased on Oct. 22, 2006, and that means you’ve gotten your money out of them,” he told the board. “You could buy a Windows 7 license, but that would mean you’re dumping money into computers that are already on borrowed time. SELCO cooperatively buys computers quarterly, and that would mean you’d be spending approximately $697 per computer, with new software called ‘Deep Freeze,’ which flushes away all the changes made to the computer, which you do want for patron use computers.”
Flores shared that SELCO is currently arranging a summer cooperative purchase and that the board could choose to participate, or it could wait until the fall cooperative purchase in October, buying eight new desktop units – sans monitors – for that $697 each, or spend $3,258.67 for the first year of a lease of eight units and $2,298.67 for the second and third years, after which SELCO would replace them with newer technology if the library chooses to continue leasing, or lease seven for $2,971.53 for the first year and $2,011.33 for the second and third years, with warranties in effect.
“You’d always be at a good state of currency,” Flores said.
Spring Valley Public Library director Jenny Simon stated that the library does have some funds available from the Osterud-Winter Trust Fund (OWTF) that could be put toward a lease arrangement, and that other OWTF contributions that the library might have on hand if verified as being available.
The board also explored the idea of using SELCO Foundation funds if they’re an option, and Simon related that since she does not use the health benefits offered to her through her job, the stipend that would normally be designated for her health care would be in the budget and could be put toward the purchase or lease of patron computers.
Board members discussed the prospect of buying new computers on a staggered basis, and Simon noted that while the concept sounds good, the reality of maintaining several computers of varying vintages and with mismatched brands and operating systems could prove far more challenging than the staff would want to handle. They also inquired as to how many computers are in use at one time – whether all eight are always occupied – and Simon replied that the number of people using them at any given time for any amount of time varies, making it unpredictable.
“I would be very comfortable reducing the patron computers to seven, or maybe even six,” she commented.
Flores pointed out that with the perpetual technological changes, the library board may someday not even be talking about desktop computers when it comes time to replace patron units. He added that the board did not have to make a decision immediately if it chose to make a purchase or lease, but that if it did want to proceed with the summer cooperative purchase, its members would have to notify him by July 25 in order for the library to be included. Ultimately, the board determined that without an ascertained source of funding, it would be prudent to wait.
Simon reported that she’s still receiving bids for the replacement of carpeting in the children’s section and behind the checkout desk, but that bids for the project will be presented at the September meeting, as there is no August library board meeting. She went on to cite the ongoing success of the summer reading program, relating that attendance at the children’s programs has remained strong.
She added that 2015 preliminary budgeting will begin in the next month and that two delegates from the seven Fillmore County libraries will attend a county commissioners’ meeting to discuss the process of seeking county funding.
Lastly, she thanked the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club for its donation of books given in honor of all the speakers who have presented at club meetings in the past year, and also the Osterud-Winter Foundation for its provision of $1,361 in additional funding to purchase or lease patron computers.
The Spring Valley Public Library is open Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call (507) 346-2100.