Northamptonshire Libraries have fifteen council operated libraries, covering both city and rural locations, that offer library users access to Hublet. Under the LibraryPlus brand, the libraries have always strived to offer a wide range of services. Alongside traditional media, the library service provides online and home services, business support and health and wellbeing resources. All libraries also run regular events for all ages, many of which became digital experiences during recent lockdowns.
Northamptonshire Libraries have a continuous programme of improvement and, in 2016, were looking to develop ways their library users could access their digital resources on devices that were not traditional PCs, but accessible mobile devices with a more familiar touchscreen interface like smartphones.
At that stage, their existing PCs were the focus of their plans, with predominant thoughts of ensuring they had the latest technology and making users more digital savvy. With this in mind, the libraries team began discussions with suppliers. Most were offering some elements of what they were looking for but not an all-in-one solution, which was the preferred option. There appeared to be nothing available at the time that met all requirements and future proofed the library service moving forward.
The goals were:
During discussions with suppliers, 2CQR Lyngsoe showed the libraries team the Hublet solution, a comprehensive tablet sharing and management service. This product seemed not only to tick all the boxes for users, enabling access to digital resources in the library, but also had significant differences to the PC offering. Further investigation with 2CQR Lyngsoe gave the libraries team more ideas on how this tablet loan offering could provide both staff and users with a modern, cutting-edge, problem-solving solution.
The Hublet solution consists of tablets that are loaned from a secure docking station and state-of-the-art management software to create and manage content and hardware. No staff is needed to supply or monitor returns and its automated features ensure full data privacy.
Users can access digital resources, such as e-books, audiobooks, digital newspapers and selected applications from the Play Store. These digital resources and any other content are fully controlled by the library service and can be tailored to different profiles of patrons.
The libraries team not only saw the main benefits of the Hublet system, but also realised that tablets were a far easier and flexible way of accessing resources – a modern approach.
However, with the pandemic changing library usage, the team saw other ways it could maximise the tablet system. Staff began using them for online team and Zoom meetings, interacting with staff in other libraries and to search for and prepare the Select and Collect service offered to library users. Staff could, with the Hublet tablets, be more mobile in the library, using them as signposts with users, for checking stock and promoting the wide range of services offered by the library.
The libraries team quickly identified the opportunities offered by Hublet for both staff and library users. Staff use them to have easy access to the Library Management System, corporate emails and for signposting users to services and resources offered by the library service and the wider council and partners. It was also a far easier way for library users to self-serve when requiring the Internet, reducing staff interaction compared to using a public PC.
Tablets are a more user-friendly way to offer digital resources than PCs. A personal and easily handled unit, the tablet could be moved around the library, used in more comfortable areas and ideal for users who struggled with sitting at desks for PC access. The tablet is also the technology of choice for users; most are familiar with tablets but, with simple direction, any user can quickly grasp the basics and access the material they want. To help with the move to tablet technology, staff and volunteers provided a series of one-to-one help sessions.
Benefits for patrons:
Benefits for staff:
Benefits for the library:
From providing staff with a convenient, powerful management and customer help tool to offering library users easy access to digital material, Hublet has proved a real winner.
Installation was straightforward and staff and users accepted the new system with no problems. The Hublet tablets are of high specification and very reliable. All the libraries have seen a significant increase in digital access since their introduction. Users like the portability of the tablets; being hand-held they create a more casual environment than having to use a desk and are ideal for those users who find desk access difficult.
Security and cleanliness are also high priority within a library environment and the Hublet system is perfect for this. All tablets are easy to clean physically and, with premium security and privacy features, they also ensure no loss of equipment or compromising of users’ data.
“Installations went perfectly, we now have a station with six tablets in each of our fifteen council libraries. It is our intention, finances permitting, to invest in more digital services using Hublet technology. Our staff and users are very happy with the ease of use and range of services available on the tablets. We have seen an increase in digital access by users and, so far, no need to call upon 2CQR Lyngsoe with any issues.”
Jaisant Patel, Systems Co-ordinator
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