Handley Library Case Study: A post from the trenches….

Editor’s Note:  We would like to thank our guest contributor, Sara Holloway of Handley Regional Library, for contributing this post about her experience with the NetEqualizer.  Thanks Sara!

Handley Regional Library Logo

Greetings!  I am a librarian from a medium-sized library system in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia who has stumbled into the world of NetEqualizer.  During my 19 year tenure here at Handley Regional Library, our computer landscape has changed radically.  When I came on board in 1993,  the library boasted XT computers that booted to our Novell network via a 5.25″ floppy disk.  Our monitors were 13″ amber screens that glowed with the pre-GUI interface of DataTrek, our integrated library system (ILS).  The only “real” computer was in the director’s office – a Compaq AT box with a VGA monitor, running Windows 3.0.  We had no computers for the public to use, but did provide a typewriter for those who needed to create a document.

Since then, we have made many changes in our IT infrastructure and in the computing services we provide.  We are not a cutting-edge technology library, like many I read about in the library literature, but we do a good job with what resources we have.  Handley Regional Library now has three branches, serving two counties (Frederick and Clarke) and the city of Winchester.  We have 120 computers serving staff and the public.  I am proud to be one of the “farmers” that helped this garden grow.

In 2010, our telecommunications began to show the strain of over 100 computers on the WAN and trying to use the Internet simultaneously.  We changed telecomm providers and were able to eke out a little more bandwidth within the tight budget constraints we faced.  Still, staff and patrons alike complained about the computers being slow.  Everything came to a head in late July 2011, when our telecomm circuits were suddenly maxed out and our ILS system (Library.Solution provided by TLC) ran at a snail’s pace.  Of course, I was on vacation at the time!

The day I returned from vacation, I received a call from a colleague.  “We have a real problem!  When will you be back?”  I immediately discovered, upon my return to work, she was correct.  There was a real problem; I just didn’t know how to fix it….at first.

Fortunately for us, the Library of Virginia (with money from the Gates Foundation) had contracted a consultant to assist several libraries in the state suffering from inadequate bandwidth problems.  The consultant had visited our library system in July 2011, just before my vacation.  In his report, he strongly suggested if we could not afford to increase our bandwidth, that instead we implement a bandwidth equalizing tool, specifically recommending NetEqualizer by name.  After careful consideration, I decided to spend my entire IT budget to  purchase a NetEqualizer.

Of all the purchases I have made for IT in my 19 years here at Handley Regional, the NetEqualizer was perhaps my best decision ever.Sara Holloway, Librarian
Handley Regional Library

We installed the NetEqualizer in late August 2011 at our branch which hosts our data, web and email servers.   It was very easy to configure and install.  Almost immediately, staff at all three branches noticed an increase of speed in our Circulation and Cataloging programs.  I tweaked the NetEqualizer configuration to prevent bandwidth hogs and to allow some breathing room in the network so our ILS processes could access our servers more easily.  I am still learning how to interpret all the data provided by ntop, but what I do understand has helped me to stop some unwanted network traffic, which has further increased the available bandwidth.

Of all the purchases I have made for IT in my 19 years here at Handley Regional, the NetEqualizer was perhaps my best decision ever.  I am thankful to the consultant who did some research to find this product and recommend it.  While it doesn’t solve our fundamental problem of inadequate bandwidth, it has been a lifesaver in keeping essential ILS functions operating.  Thanks, NetEqualizer!

NetEqualizer Bandwidth Shaping Solution: Libraries

In working with libraries across the country, we have heard the same issues and challenges repeatedly from network administrators.  Here are just a few:

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  • We need to meet the varying needs of all of our patrons while keeping the network truly open to the public.
  • We need to ensure access to our online resources for remote users (online catalogs, databases, etc.).
  • We need to do more with less bandwidth.
  • We need a solution that’s low cost, low maintenance, and easy to set up.
  • We need a solution that will grow with our network.

In this article, we’ll talk about how the NetEqualizer has been used to solve these issues for many libraries around the world.

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