Up until recently, I hadn’t been into a library in more than 10 years.  

It is not that I don’t love books, but with as much travel as I do, I have become dependent on my Kindle, iPad, Surface … and, well, you get the picture.

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to visit a couple of the library systems here in California. WOW! I was blown away. Today’s library is so much more than just books. The library concept has adapted to give its patrons access to all the information that is available today. Today’s library offers public use computers for patrons to use for surfing the Web, accessing the library database, watching movies on DVD or on the web, even doing their banking or working on their business books.

Orange County Public Libraries have around 850 public desktop PCs. The OC Community Resources IT team of 25 were facing a daunting task of administrating these machines spread over 33 branches.

“As with any public service, some people use it properly, but others want to see what they can do with it,” says Clyde Gamboa, director of information technology. “People would try to save things, delete things or download programs.”

Another Northern California library was facing similar challenges. Fighting security concerns of viruses and malware to just keep the computer operating system “Gold Image” updated with the latest security patches and versions of the software, not to mention just plain old malicious users deleting files or Windows registry settings.

Things had to change.

Citrix XenDesktop gives the technical staff of today’s libraries the tools they need to reduce complexity and costs of managing their environment. 

This enabled Orange County Public Library saved over $660,000 on PC purchases alone. Provisioning Service (PVS), included with XenDesktop Enterprise and Platinum editions, allows the libraries to streamline image management not only for the new virtualized PC’s but also for physical desktops for uses that might require special hardware. Orange County was able to reduce the number images they had to manage to three.

Now, when someone logs off their session the Virtual Desktop resets itself back to the gold image. No worries about those pesky deleted files or malware that might have gotten downloaded. Each patron’s personal data is now safer because no personal information is kept from session to session. XenDesktop even offers the ability to easily use personal thumb drives that can be accessed from the virtual session to allow the user to work on the personal files they need.

Orange County used repurposed PCs to access the Citrix XenDesktop system, and we are working with other library systems to explore using inexpensive thin clients to access the environment. I have been exploring using the $35.00 Raspberry Pi2 as a thin client with all the work done by fellow Citrites Muhammad@Citrix, Yi Lu and @martinrowan.

For more information on that check out this article Citrix Receiver for Linux on Raspberry Pi 2 using Raspbian Wheezy.

It doesn’t stop here, either! I am working with a number of library systems across the country exploring how we can leverage other Citrix technologies like Melio or Sharefile to ease the deployment of images across all the branches. I will post another blog updating those projects.

So, stop by your local library and check out more than just a book!