Computer Availability Display Application
Up-to-the-minute status of available computers in the library
The Computer Availability Display application provides up-to-the-minute status of available computers at D.H. Hill Library, the main library on the NC State campus. The display was developed to help library users quickly discover and locate computing resources available to them in the library. The display is accessible on a large screen display near the entrance of the NCSU Libraries Learning Commons, and via a web-based interface. A mobile device interface is in development. Computer availability information is organized by physical location and further subdivided by computer platform type (e.g. 'PC', 'Mac').
The core of the application is a small MySQL database of registered computers identified by IP address. These computers are related to a set of predefined regions representing physical aggregations of computers in the library. Individual computers send simple HTTP requests to a centralized logging script to update the individual computer status to either 'busy' or 'idle' depending on whether a user has logged in or logged off of the computer. The logging requests are embedded into the login and logout scripts for each computer. A set of presentation templates written in PHP provide an overview of computer availability in the library for different display types.
Sierra, T. (2009). "Patterns in Academic Library Computer Use", Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) Annual Meeting 2009, Chapel Hill, NC, July 24, 2009.