Guest computer access

Thanks to my coworker Andrea for the wording below…we have a quandary at MPOW, and we’re trying to work out the best answer. We need your help in seeing other ways of handling the situation. So: to the question!

The context:
Here at UTC, we require our patrons to login with a username and password to use our library’s public computers. Current UTC students, faculty, and staff have these logins, but other library guests (alumni, patrons who have purchased courtesy cards, people who walk-in off the street) do not.

At present, our Reference Librarians use a guest account to login courtesy card patrons (alumni, retired faculty/staff, those who purchase a courtesy card etc.) and faculty/staff/students of other universities. Courtesy Card patrons can also check out a laptop computer for 3-hour in house use at our Circulation Desk. For everyone else, we have set up three “research stations” — computers without logins that have no productivity software and can only access the library databases and .edu/.gov websites. No general Internet access is available on these.

Unfortunately, we consistently find all of our computers in use during the fall and spring semesters. And, we find that some of our guest users monopolize our equipment to the exclusion of our primary patrons: UTC students, faculty, and staff. We are also getting some pressure from our campus IT people to not allow “anonymous” logins to the campus network – which is essentially what our use of a generic guest login provides.

The Questions:
We’d like to know what others out there in a similar situation have done (other than buy more computers). Have you cut off access to guest users completely? Have you implemented time or access limits through some technological or manual method? What has been the reaction from your guest users to the policy change? How about from others on campus?

Thoughts?


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