Across two states, a progressive library service is now using satellite technology to provide much improved services and Internet access to regional customers throughout the rural areas of the Upper Murray Valley region. The region encompasses the cities of Albury and Wodonga and the shires of Corowa, Holbrook, Hume, Indigo, Towong, Tumbarumba and Urana.
The Upper Murray Regional Library (UMRL) provides two mobile libraries to service its patrons who are not in the vicinity of one of its 13 fixed branches. However, because the 28,000sq km region includes both Victoria’s High Country and the Valleys of the Snowy River, it is a difficult environment for mobile communications, allowing until recently for the provision of only the very basic of library services.
Aspiring to provide a library service that is as equitable and accessible as possible, UMRL approached Xantic, the satellite solution provider, for an answer. What it came up with was a satellite-delivered mobile Global Area Network (GAN) service, made possible through its partnership with Inmarsat Ltd.
The service is delivered over the Inmarsat network by Xantic, which provides a full mobile ISDN service at 64Kb/s, a Mobile Packet Data Service (MPDS) and a GAN mobile voice service. The MPDS is a breakthrough and allows for continuous and low cost online connections. Costs are minimised because users are only charged for the packages of data transmitted rather than for the time they are connected or online.
In practical terms it means that the public using the mobile libraries have access to the Internet, whilst the staff in mobile centres has access to a LAN and Library Management system, making searching for titles, availability and customer profiles instantaneous.
The GAN service means the two mobile libraries can send large amounts of data, e-mail and even participate in videoconferences. All this is done with a PC and a laptop-sized satellite terminal.
The mobile libraries carry a combined stock of nearly 11,000 items and last year they processed 74,000 loans, nearly 6,000 reservations and 6,800 requests for information.’
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