It’s been a busy start to the year for the MLBN team! Beginning in mid-February we began shipping new, upgraded measurement computers to our year 1 libraries, along with the current version of our training manual. Year 1 libraries are being upgraded with the latest measurement system software release and returning the computers we installed in our visits last year. When we receive their original devices back, we’re copying all data that they collected into our data archive for analysis. So far about half of Year 1 libraries have completed the upgrade.
We’re also confirming details with our Year 2 libraries and shipping them their measurement computers. Libraries participating in year 2 are asked to complete an online intake form, after which we confirm device configuration details, and then configure and ship their measurement devices to them. It’s pretty great to see these devices come online and begin running tests! So far this has been a very smooth process, with about seven libraries up and running. Over the next few weeks we hope to have up to 60 total libraries online and collecting data.
While we experimented with different locations with libraries to connect our measurement computers in the first year, the MLBN team decided to standardize locations in the second year. At each participating library, one measurement computer is being connected at the primary switch or router for the location, to measure the performance of the overall facility; and a second is being connected to a switch port that would otherwise connect a new WiFi access point, measuring the speeds which a single WiFi access point has to serve multiple patrons. This decision was based on the preferences expressed by many of our year 2 libraries, is a more comparable measurement to the device measuring the total location capacity at the switch or router, and that it avoids the technical complexities of allowing a non-library, non-patron computer to bypass patron WiFi consent pages. In some cases, such as in small libraries with only one access point or a lack of dedicated ethernet ports where the library might connect additional access points, we will only connect one measurement computer, connected to the switch or router.
As we deal with the basic logistics of confirming details, configuring, and shipping measurement computers, we’re also completing the initial release of our online data visualization service. Once ready, participating libraries will receive an invitation to login and view the data being collected by the measurement computers in their libraries. Over the remainder of the grant program, library staff will be asked to provide feedback on the data visualizations, and our developers will update and refine the service.
We’re excited to be at this point in the program. Stay tuned for more updates!