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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Windows XP to Windows 7

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, June 8, 2014



It has been about six years since Microsoft announced that support for the Windows XP operating system would end April 8, 2014. 


Like most of the world, it felt like we had a ton of time to address this operating system issue, and in the meantime the library would advance anytime we acquired a new computer.


The problem that developed was that the newest operating system at-the-time, Windows 8, turned out to be an enemy of libraries; unable to perform several of the essential functions of library land making it necessary to use Windows 7.


A survey of the federal government’s computers performed in March found that 10 percent were still operating on Windows XP, better than the private sector’s 20 percent that hadn’t been upgraded.


At our library system, we were in the 10 percent range with our 135 computers county-wide, but found that the remaining computers also needed replaced due to their age.


As April 8 neared, many said that this was just a ploy for Microsoft to sell things, while others worried about security breaches without the maintenance and patches that are applied to the operating systems.


We managed to “make it” by the deadline, but the complexity of the needed work was overwhelming in terms of the work required and the outlay of funds to replace what couldn’t be upgraded.


After April 8, we were left with an addressing system still chugging along on XP, and a scheduling system that the software company has yet to provide an upgrade that works with Windows 7, although neither accesses the Internet.


The Director’s computer, ahem, was one of the computers that needed upgraded, but it was so old that the whole computer had to be replaced.


I have Windows 7 at home, so it shouldn’t have been such a big deal to adapt to the upgraded operating system, but it was.


Where’s my print button?  Why is this double-spacing?  What printer did that go to?  I asked younger people around the library some “what if” and “suppose” questions so I could get answers without sounding old.


I tried to access the statistical gathering program from our online system and kept getting the message, “This computer needs to be upgraded to Windows 7 to take advantage of the new operating system in SirsiDynix.”


My computer is now on Windows 7. I had to call the computer center and complete a “ticket” providing all the background, and the technician called back and had me to this and that, here and there, and finally a four-digit code needed changed to allow it to operate.


The label printing system was worse.  Its software had to be reloaded, new printer drivers installed and the dimensions of the labels defined before it would work with Windows 7.


I won’t tell you how many trial and error printings were done before successful operations were restored.


More than once, I wondered if it wouldn’t be easier to put a sheet of labels in my IBM electric typewriter and pound out the spine label needed for a book.  No, that won’t work anymore as the labels are designed for laser printing, not a typewriter ribbon.


I have been told that future upgrades will be easy.  How many times have I heard that line related to a computer?


As the XP issue was being resolved, I received an e-mail saying that it is now time to install the new fiber optic communication lines.


I know the library has to remain on the forefront of technology, but can I please glue a book spine, or tip a page back into a book?