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Software Lending Library

Submitted on April 02, 2013

What problem are you intending to solve?

A lack of ubiquitous access to needed applications among Kansas City's students, inner city residents, entrepreneurs and researchers.

What is the technological approach, or development roadmap?

We want to create a "minimal viable pilot" for the Software Lending Library and plan to use an existing Remote Desktop solution to deliver software applications from Library servers to patrons across our service area. We need to implement a scheduler or check-out mechanism to ensure maximum access within the terms of the licenses. It may be possible to integrate these sessions into our existing public access catalog to facilitate check-out, though we also want to create a separate portal so it can be branded and promoted as a standalone resource.


  1. Select appropriate needed software with input from citizens and library staff. Obtain licenses.
  2. Set up server environment and install software
  3. Evaluate numerous remote desktop solutions and select best performing
  4. Create web interface and scheduling mechanism
  5. Leverage the Library's Public Affairs and Outreach departments to publicize the lending library and create interest in the schools as well as the robust business and arts communities. Coordinate with other area libraries and organizations via KC Digital Drive
  6. Evaluate the loan periods, circulation policies and software selection throughout the pilot phase, just as we do our physical collections at the Library.

How will end users interact with it, and how will they benefit?

Users will visit the catalog/website to schedule a time to use a particular piece of software. Using the ultra high speed connection to deliver the applications will allow users to do homework, perform routine tasks and generate creative output from typically low-performing or older computers and devices. The Lending Library has tremendous potential to mediate the effects of unequal access to productivity tools in the community. As KC-area libraries develop a comprehensive digital inclusion strategy to coincide with Google Fiber's saturation in neighborhoods, the Software Lending Library can provide immediate access for trainers and trainees. We can marry the use of an application to training and education about its value.

How will your app leverage the 1Gbps, sliceable and deeply programmable network?

This project simply would not be possible without gigabit fiber connectivity. Kansas City's ultrafast Google Fiber network is not just high speed but low-latency. At the Mozilla-sponsored Hacking the Gigabit City hackfest at the Google Fiber Space, March 22-24, 2013, we demonstrated that off-the-shelf remote desktop software was responsive enough over Google Fiber to be used by remote users to manipulate images in Adobe Photoshop. This creates a host of possibilities for delivering software to patrons and students who will be connected at their schools, libraries and community centers even if they do not have Google Fiber at home.

Further application information

Additional supporting information, materials and resources

Will your work be beta-ready by the end of the Development Challenge?

We can get a working prototype up within weeks for testing purposes and plan to evaluate and tweak over six months or so as the scheduling mechanism is clarified and refined.

How much effort do you expect this work to take?

Much of the work relies on existing technologies - applications, servers, remote desktop. Figuring out the check-out and scheduling is the biggest aspect but is still relatively straightforward. We should be able to handle this alongside regular duties with the involvement of an external programmer.

Do you need help?

Yes. The Library currently lacks the programming capacity to develop the scheduling mechanism and evaluate the catalog's ability to provide necessary functionality. We could also use help identifying high-impact applications to obtain for the pilot.

If you can help let them know in the comments below.


and team members

The Library employs two Systems Administrators who will set up, maintain and support servers and install necessary software. Our Digital User Specialist and Web Developer will assist in the design and functionality of the public interface, making sure that it conforms to Web standards and is tested with users prior to launch. The Digital Branch Manager will provide strategic direction and project management, and seek ways to connect citizens to the Lending Library when it is launched. A contract programmer will be sought to build the scheduling mechanism and/or integrate the service with our existing Web catalog. Allied staff include the members of the Library Outreach and Public Affairs departments who will leverage their community connections to identify high-need users for the pilot phase. KC Digital Drive will help foster relationships with local library systems and organizations in the interest of extending the program’s reach into the community. Key users in education, video production, photography and entrepreneurship will serve as ambassadors for the project to their peers.

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