I like Pharos. I’ve used to work for a place that wrote all of the internet bookings on a big arsed piece of paper and then took money at the desk for each printout. If someone claimed they hadn’t had their allocated internet time then they would bitch and moan and generally annoy others.

Enter Pharos.

Pharos allows patrons to make their own internet bookings. Currently they can do it from our internal catalogue (looks the same as our external catalogue but doesn’t show web results) but not our external catalogue. I think that the reason it’s not external yet is due to the fear that it might not work and then people will expect us to make it work (bad excuse I know).

Pharos controls the length of time a person can use the computer (you can have a maximum of an hour service-wide, that means you can have 60 one minute sessions or one hour session) and gives warning when time is nearly up. It also allows us to specify which computers have which length (multimedia PC = one hour, quick internet = 15 minutes) and lets patrons book their own session or just hop on to a free PC.

Pharos also controls the printing. Patrons can put money onto their card via a coin loader (or we can do it at the desk for them) and then, when they print, it subtracts money based on what we tell it. It stores the print jobs in a queue that the patron has to release themself (they scan their barcode on a machine next to the photocopier and enter their pin number). This also means that Pharos controls photocopies, you just scan the card and tada, you can photocopy.

Bad things from my point of view – it doesn’t allow you to set limits for branches currently. ie if we set an hour limit, it is service wide. I cannot set an hour limit at Deer Park and then a two hour limit for the Word Processor and have them seperate. It also means we have no coin boxes at our photocopiers so that we have to put money on to a card every time someone wants to photocopy. Similarly, there’s no ‘guest’ login for tourists (although we have a bunch of ‘guest’ card numbers that we give to patrons on a little slip of paper).

I know there’s a whole bunch of these out there, some are better than others. I quite like Pharos (although I find the interface to actually book a computer a bit confusing).

That’s all til next week!

Pharos – Print management for patrons

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