Why Is It Called “Ask Here”?

You should replace the “Ask Here” banners with something like “Catalog Computers”.

Also, you should add an arm to the mounting bracket that those computers are on, to provide a flat or tiltable surface for the papers or electronic devices whose screen the user is typing from. If one hand has to hold the information source, all we can do is hunt-and-peck one-handed, which takes a lot more time.

Thanks for contacting us about changing the banner. Those banners actually say exactly what we mean. Let’s clear up one thing. Yes, there are computers right below the banners that you can use to search the library catalog. Those computers are there primarily for quick lookups – no chairs as you noticed.

The banners really have nothing to do with those computers. “Ask Here” is our way of letting students know that they’ve arrived at the right location to ask a library staff member a question. That’s what that big round desk is for. The people sitting there can help you find what you need, help you with research, recommend research resources and much more. Our librarians are subject specialists who have expertise in many of the subjects taught at Temple University.

So the next time you have a question – go ask it there.

We have explored the possibility of adding some sort of platform where students can put their books or device while they type on the keyboard of those lookup computers. We’ve not been able to find a good solution that will fit that particular space. But it’s been a while since we last looked and perhaps we need to try again.

Thanks for your suggestion.

Steven Bell
Associate University Librarian


Please Silence All Computers

Can you disable the volumes on the computers, so that it can only be audible through headphones. Don’t disable it entirely, but please make sure the computers can’t play any sound loudly without the use of headphones. 

Thanks for sharing what many of us consider an annoyance when we are trying to study with some quiet. It is our policy that headphones should always be used when listening to media of any type on our library computers. We even loan headphones to those who don’t have a pair (go to our Media Services Department).

According to the Library Systems Office, if a computer is ordered without an internal speaker, the computer will not be capable of producing any sound. We will investigate to determine if it is possible to customize the sound card to allow for sound through the headphone jack while disabling the speaker. It may be possible but we will have to experiment.

In the meantime, if a patron is making noise that is disturbing your study, if you do not feel comfortable asking the person to use headphones or stop the noise, go to a service desk and ask a member of the library staff to speak to the person making the noise. You other option is to study in one of our multiple quiet zones. If you need a computer, you can borrow a laptop from our circulation desk and take it to any quiet zone.

Thank you for sharing your suggestion with us.

What’s Up With Requiring a Login At Paley?

What were the reasons behind the recently implemented decision to require us to login to search the library catalog?


Thanks for getting in touch with this question. Others may be wondering the same thing. But first, allow me to clear up a few things about the library catalog.


Here at the Temple University Libraries we refer to the catalog as Diamond. You can call it whatever you like as long as you know how to get to it and how to use it (but if you don’t – just ask any of our friendly staff for assistance). You should know that there has never been a requirement to login to Diamond, nor is there currently a requirement to login to Diamond. We make our library catalog freely accessible to the global Internet community. Try it from off campus sometime – you won’t be asked to login just to search our catalog. If you are – let us know immediately because something isn’t working right.


That leads me to ask what has prompted your question. Not knowing exactly I’ll address two possibilities. First, you might be asking about the new procedure in Paley (actually in place since September 2010) where students must login to get access to the desktop on any personal computer in the library. We made this change for several reasons. First, we are now more compatible with the policy used in the TECH Center – students always had to login there – and now we have the same policy. Second, we moved to requiring a login at Paley because we found that many non-Temple guests were getting on our computers and then students were having a hard time finding a computer they could use. We wanted to come up with a system to better serve students and our guests. With the login requirement, guests can no longer login – and it is also really important for students to logoff when they are done with computers so no one can get on one using their account. Now guests use dedicated computers in the Tuttleman area of the Library.


BTW, if you are in Paley Library, keep in mind that we have several “search the catalog only” computers – no terminal login ever needed – you’ll find them at the “Ask Here” desk, by the circulation desk and in the Media Services area.


The other possibility is that you are trying to access a subscription-based library database (such as those from Ebscohost, JStor, or many others) when you are off campus, and are being asked to login with your account. That has always been the case as we require Temple community members to authenticate themselves in order to access one of our licensed databases from off-campus. On campus, once you login to the desktop and open a browser, you should never be asked to login to the database – it knows you are from Temple when you are on campus. Again, if you are on campus and are being asked for an account, please report that to us right away.


So that summarizes why we added the login requirement for the computers. However, just to reiterate, there is absolutely no login required to access the library catalog. If you are just using the catalog and being asked to login, please report this to us as it is an error that we would need to correct.

How About Adding Internet-Connected Computers in Media Services

As a suggestion, a computer terminal is needed in the basement for internet usage.  If you’re working downstairs on microfilm or whatever it becomes time consuming to have to stop what you’re doing to go upstairs to use a computer to retrieve information.

When the Media Services department was being planned in 2007-2008, thought was given to adding a few regular computer workstations to the area that are similar to the ones on all other floors of the library. Why didn’t we add them? We had only a limited budget for the project, and only a limited number of connections we could add. Yes, at Temple University there is a significant cost associated with adding a new Internet connection plus the ongoing monthly cost for each connection. We wanted to have at least two quick lookup terminals for those who wanted to check for videos on our library catalog. Those two devices are working out well. But you can’t use them for checking e-mail or other applications – by design. Admittedly, it can be a hassle to go from Media Services up to the first floor if you need to connect to the Internet. We will take your suggestion into consideration, and it could be a possible future enhancement for that area. In the meantime, if you are going to be in the Media Services area for an extended period, consider borrowing a laptop or notebook computer from the Circulation/Reserve Desk. There is wireless connectivity in the Media Services area, and equipped with a laptop or notebook, you’d never need to leave. Thank you for your suggestion.

People Are Hogging The Computers

Is there something that can be done to prevent students from claiming computers for a very long time? Students actually using the computer for hours are not a problem but those who leave their jackets and backpacks at a computer and leave for up to half an hour or more is a problem. The computers just sit on screen saver while others must wait to find an open computer. Everyone should get a fair chance at using a computer in the library. Is there something that can be done? It would certainly cut down on a lot of frustration experienced by library users.


Thank you for bringing this to our attention. One thing we do know for sure is that the computer areas of the Paley Library are quite crowded for most of the day. We greatly appreciate that you and other students find the Library a great place to do your academic work. That said, we are close to the maximum number of computers we can have in the Library. Therefore we are going to have times when every computer is occupied.


But we agree that occasionally there are students using the computers to play games or other activities that might frustrate you when you need a computer to write or print a paper or do some real research. We’ve been asked before to limit the computers to just research and you can read our response to that suggestion. However, unlike the TECH Center we have neither the staff nor the layout that affords us the ability to monitor how long students are leaving computers unattended – yet occupied. Further, we’ve not heard a complaint about this from any other Library user. Keep in mind that when you see an unoccupied computer station, that student may have gotten up to stand in line for the printer – and that can sometimes take 5-10 minutes. An empty seat need not mean the person will be gone for an extended period. Still, we are concerned and will discuss how we can monitor the situation, and explore some of the things they are doing about this in the TECH Center.


Here’s the best suggestion we have for what to do in this situation. If you come to the main floor of Paley Library and you can’t get on a computer, please proceed to the “Ask Here” desk and request assistance. Our library staff will be glad to help, and we can ask a student who may be simply killing time to give up the computer. We can also investigate a situation where it appears someone has left their personal belongings but isn’t using the computer.


Here are some other things to consider. Are you aware we have computers on the second and third levels? Often students only look for computers on the main level. Consider looking for a computer on the upper levels (we just got some new models). Perhaps you can use a laptop computer. The Paley Library Circulation/Reserve Desk has 75 laptops and netbooks available for loan. If you can’t find a computer available consider borrowing a laptop or netbook, and use it wherever you like. We hope these strategies will enable you to have a better experience when you use the Temple University Libraries.

How About A Computer Just For Printing?

Many students have a difficult time finding a computer in the library to quickly print documents before class. I believe that this can simply be solved by restricting access to sites that are unrelated to academics such as facebook, myspace and youtube.


When we redesigned our Paley Library computer commons and opened it up to students in the fall of 2008 we thought it would be a significant improvement, and we are pleased to see that it is being heavily used by Temple University students. In fact, as you point out, the usage is so heavy that it can often be difficult to find a computer, especially when one is in a rush and there is a need for a quick printing job – or anything that will just take a few moments.


You actually raise two issues in your suggestion. First, why can’t we make it simpler and faster to just print out a single document. Second, why do we allow students to spend time on web surfing when other students must attend to urgent schoolwork. Both are good questions. As for the second one, please take a look at this prior suggestion in which we respond to this matter.


As for the first item, we think there may be a better solution to the problem than restricting what students can do on the computers. We are going to look into adding an “express printing station” that we would place directly in the printing area in the computer commons. This computer could be used only to retrieve and then send a document to the printers (please note that we would not plan to add a printer for this “express print station” – the existing printers can easily handle the additional jobs coming to them). We think this should be a big help to any student in a hurry who just wants to print something quickly and can’t find a free computer.


Finally, please know that we recently added an additional printer on the second floor east of the Paley Library. If you need to print something and you don’t see an open computer on the first floor, consider heading to the second floor where we have additional computers.


Thanks again for your suggestion which prompted us to consider how we might further improve library services for our user community.



I’m Not a Temple Student But Can I Use The Wireless Network?

Your library does not allow visitor get into internet, even if the visitor uses his own laptop. It is unreasonble for a public university to refuse local tax payer to use their library. Suggestion: set up a public access code for vistor so that they can access the internet network, at least as they use their own laptop.

Your message has a few misconceptions that I’d like to clear up. Let’s take them one by one:

Your library does not allow visitor get into internet: This is not correct. We do offer access to the Internet to members of the public. But you do need to be on-site and you must use a designated computer. For more information ask about Internet access ask at any Library service desk.

Even if the visitor uses his own laptop: This is correct – BUT – no college or university we know of allows members of the public to access their wireless network on their own laptop. If you know of one, please tell us where to find them. Our wireless network is an encrypted, secure network. We have to do this or anybody in the city could use our wireless signal to get on the Internet. Temple University’s Computer Services Department does not allow us to create any codes to allow members of the public to access the wireless network because it is a computer security risk. We do not think this is unreasonable, and you are able to use the designated computers when you are here.

It is unreasonable for a public university to refuse local tax payer to use their library: This is incorrect. Not only are the Temple University Libraries open to the local tax paying public, but we are open to the entire world. We allow anyone from anywhere to use our Libraries. As long as any member of the public abides by our library use policies, they will never be refused access to our Library.

So we welcome you to use our library and its resources – and you can certainly access the Internet here even if you are not a student – but we are unfortunately unable to allow members of the public to access the Internet via our wireless network using a laptop computer.

Are The Library’s Computers Open To The Public

The answer is no and yes. Here’s an explanation. It is the mission of Temple University to serve the community. Since the Library supports the mission of the University, we serve the community as part of our mission as well. To do this we allow members of the public to use our Libraries, although those who do not have a Temple ID must show photo identification to enter the building and must sign in with the door guard. Also, because the Library is a government document depository, we are also required to be open to the general public.

However, the computers in all the Temple Libraries are not generally available to the public. You may have noticed that virtually all of our computers require a Temple network account to access anything more than the Library online catalog. But given our mission to serve the public we do make available a limited number of computers for members of the general public. For fall 2009 the public use computers will be located in Tuttleman opposite the Circulation Desk. To use a computer a member of the public (no currently valid Temple ID) must register in advance at the Circulation Desk, and if approved will receive a unique code to logon to the designated public use computers.

So the anwer is yes, but in a rather limited capacity. We believe there are sufficient computers in the Libraries – along with laptops that can be borrowed from the Circulation Desk – to accommodate Temple University students. But let us know if you think we need to be doing a better job with our computers.

How About Computers For Those Who Just Want to Print?

I think there should be computers for people that only need to print. There should be a max time limit that someone can be on the computer allowing them enough time to log on and get any documents they need from online or the backpack tool. I just know a lot of people that have to go to school a lot earlier in order to make sure they have enough time to stand around for an hour so they can print.

Having individual computers for those who just want to do some quick printing would offer some potential benefits for those in a rush. However, your print job would still go into the regular queue and you would have to wait your turn to print the job. The challenge is that there is a significant demand for computers at Paley Library, and it could be a questionable use of resources to set aside a computer just for those who want to print a document. Also, once on  the computer we would not have any control over how many documents the person prints, which might be time consuming. Nor do we police the computers or put time control software on them. So again, we would not prevent someone from still taking their time on our computers. But I will share the idea with others and perhaps we can come up with some potential solutions to your problem, which is really about waiting too long just to print a document when you are in a hurry. For example, additional printers on upper levels could better level printing jobs so they don’t all go to just the two printers in the computer commons. We will also consult with Computer Services about the costs and feasibilty of setting this up since they have control over campus computer printing services.  

Thank you for your suggestion. It is a problem for which we will explore some potential solutions.

Please Limit Library Computers to Research Only

Often when I need a terminal at the library to do research, they are all being used by people on non-research websites (AKA Facebook, Myspace, etc). Is there a way to limit the ability of library computers to access non-research websites, so students who need to legitimately use the computers can have access to library resources?

Thanks for sharing your concerns and frustrations about finding a computer in our Libraries. Part of our role as is to provide a good space and the resources for study and research. But the Library is also a meeting space, a social space, a place to find some respite from a hectic schedule, an academic support service, and even sometimes a place to find entertainment – on a computer. To support so many diverse needs we offer a large number of computers with unrestricted access so students and others can check their email, write a paper, update their facebook status, do research on a library database or watch a soccer video.

That’s why we do not impose limits on what students and others can do on our Library computers. Yes, there are students using the computers for chat, to play games or other forms of what you might call “goofing off”. But no one can always tell what a person is doing just from what’s on the screen. The student on facebook may be communicating with classmates about an assignment. The student watching a television program or part of a movie on YouTube may be doing so for legitimate class work. Everyone in our Libraries is entitled to their time on the university equipment.

That said, facilitating research is clearly one of our core missions. If you are in Paley Library and there are no computers available and you see what looks like non-research activity going on, please proceed to the “Ask Here” Desk on the first floor. Those working at the “Ask Here” Desk often ask students if they will kindly give up their computer to someone who needs to conduct research. We find that students are likely to comply with that request.

Finally, please be sure to look for an open computer on the upper levels of Paley where we have added additional equipment or consider borrowing a laptop at the Tuttleman Circulation Desk.