BYOD: Supporting Patrons’ Devices in the Library

With more and more patrons using their own devices, access to library resources isn’t just about public workstations anymore. This trend means that patrons are asking for help with constantly changing hardware, and that underused library equipment is available to be repurposed. Amy Andreasson from Eldredge Public Library in Chatham, MA, describes her library’s in-person training and support for patrons’ hardware, Dean Baumeister from Memorial Hall Library in Andover, MA, shows how his library has found new uses for old technology, and Mat Bose from Hooksett (NH) Public Library presents his library’s Gadget Group as an example of an organized, proactive approach to helping patrons with their devices. The program is sponsored by ITS, and their business meeting is included.

Session info, slides, and links


Our guidelines:

  1. Hands-off: to protect staff, we don’t touch patron devices
  2. We provide as much help as we can, within reason
  3. We provide help at the time of need, so don’t require appointments (unless it’s a device/problem you’ve never heard of, or a topic that requires research)

Our most frequently asked questions:

  • Connecting to library wifi – we created a handout to help with this because we get asked so often
  • Phone questions from patrons seeking tech support on their home computer
  • Patrons who received a device as a gift (usually from their kids), and now feel sufficiently guilty about not doing anything with it that they want to learn about it
  • Which device should I buy? This always depends on the intended us, and usually we refer them to retail store to touch and feel devices to see which is the most comfortable for them
  • The single biggest Ah-Ha moment is showing someone the hidden menus on the Kindle Fire


Gadget user group

  • all devices are welcome
  • registration required (form asks about devices, areas of questions, etc)
  • usually 5-8 patrons attend
  • goal is to provide support, but it also gives a great opportunity to promote library resources, services, and programs
  • use email list to remind attendees, send out agenda, and links to resources
  • always have two library staff in the room to field questions
  • usually start sessions with ice breaker question (what new apps have you found?), the 15 minutes of sharing library news, 15 minutes of answering questions, then break into small groups based on interest/device
  • ways to promote: email list, electronic sign at library, referrals from desk staff, kiosk thin client computer using smugmug slideshow, website


Repurposed old public workstation PCs into catalog lookup stations.

  • set them up using free Linux Terminal Software Project software
  • terminal/with server, means everything is run off server and PCs are just thin clients – don’t even have hard drives
  • all they need is good network connection and a web browser
  • using WCGBrowser, which is very basic kiosk-type browser, so don’t need to worry about
  • patron hacking into Firefox/Chrome/etc’s fancier functions, because it just doesn’t have them
  • how-to steps at
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