University of Massachusetts Moves to Thin-Client Technology

The University of Massachusetts libraries on the Boston and Dartmouth campuses have deployed thin-client computer terminals to provide students with high-speed Internet access without the high maintenance and administration costs associated with PCs.

Hauppauge, NY-based Boundless Technologies provided its Capio terminals to both libraries to kick off the academic year. Thin-client terminals are designed to access information and applications over a network, so they do not require local data storage. As a result, the terminals typically cost less to buy and to maintain.

Students have embraced the new research stations, said Charlie McNeil, systems librarian at the Dartmouth campus. "The good part is everybody walks up and just uses them," he said. "The students seem happy and we've had no complaints.... Usually when you have something new, the first thing you hear is what's wrong with it."

The university has installed 25 terminals so far and plans to increase that number. McNeil especially has been impressed with the heightened control the Capio machines offer over PCs.

"The security that comes with the Capio devices prevents end users from changing settings, and it allows us to run multiple protocols and utilities," he said. "The first time we used new PCs, on the first day within the first three hours, two machines had been broken into and we had to [pull them] to correct the problem."

The thin clients are set up in public areas, stacks, book reserve rooms and librarian offices. Capio has been programmed to search library catalogs and access various online databases, the World Wide Web and the library's CD collection.

The Boston campus has 20 machines in use and purchased them at a cost of about $750 per terminal, including monitors, said Apurva Mehta, head of library systems. "Five of them are in a really busy area and get a good workout seven days a week," he said. "The other 15 are distributed in the stacks so students who are reading and researching can log into out databases...and they're working really well."

Mehta also noted the benefits of increased security because students often change the settings on machines, such as the home pages for individual terminals, but the thin-clients automatically reset to the default page when rebooted.

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