Frequently Asked Questions
Data Security (top)
Q: How secure will my library's data be?
A: Protection of your patrons' data is something that Biblionix takes very seriously. When you embrace any kind of remote access for patron services like renewal and catalog searches, you must allow some opening of your data to the wide Internet world. This is true whether you use an on-site server in your library or a hosted/ASP approach like Biblionix uses. So the question really becomes, how well is your data protected in each of those cases. Let's look.
If you are hosting the data in your library, you are responsible for managing the settings on the equipment that limits external access and prevents hacking. You are also responsible for the appropriate network design that will not only prevent attack from outside the library, but from your very own public Internet PCs. There is also the possibility that a your server may be stolen. So, you are responsible for the physical protection of the server as well. Also, you are responsible for preventing and stopping denial of service attacks that may be launched against your server.
When Biblionix hosts your data, we shoulder all these responsibilities. Our highly trained professional staff manages the openings to the Internet and maintains optimal protection at all times. Our servers are protected with best practices solutions to guard against intrusion, denial of service, and malicious traffic.
Plus, there are physical protections too. See the next question.
Q: How are your servers housed and protected?
A: Our servers reside in top-tier Internet datacenters. They are deployed using geographic redundancy. In other words, your data is securely located in multiple cities and securely housed by multiple datacenter companies. It’s always up-to-date in all servers, so if one server goes down, another can quickly pick up the load. Plus, data is backed-up every hour. These extraordinary measures insure that there is no single point of failure. And that means your library keeps operating through thick and thin. The datacenters are heavily protected facilities designed to maximize up-time for their customers. Here are some examples of what they provide:
- Connections to five different Internet providers
- Staff, equipment, and software to protect against hackers
- 24/7 technical support on-site with spare hardware
- Parallel 500KVA UPS Battery Backup Units
- 2000KW Diesel Generator with Onsite Fuel Storage
- Redundant 20 Ton HVAC Units
- Pre-Action Dry Pipe Fire Suppression
- Proximity Security Badge Access
- Digital Security Video Surveillance
Internet Connectivity (top)
Q: What happens when my Internet goes down?
A: You can continue checkouts with your Circulation computers even when the Internet is down. When the Internet comes back, the off-line activity will re-synchronize with the server. Although your experience may differ, usually, when the Internet goes down, it's a temporary problem with your Internet provider and will be corrected quickly. Conversely, if you have your own server and it fails, it's totally your problem and it may be down for days.
Also, if you expect significant Internet downtime, you could investigate the possibility of a using a second Internet provider. This will allow you, in the event of an outage, to switch to the one that's working. Your patrons can continue to use your public workstations, and you can use Apollo. Often, Internet providers will donate their service to public libraries.
Q: How do I know whether or not my Internet connection is fast enough?
A: All of our customers have DSL, cable, or other high-speed Internet access and do not experience speed problems. Apollo was designed to be a light load on our Internet connection. This assures the best possible performance. Conversely, pictures, videos, and audio files, are a heavy load. The Apollo free trial will let you experience the performance in your library, first hand. Here are some comparative examples of the Internet connection load:
|Checking in / checking out:||negligible|
|Running a catalog search resulting in 40 items:||4KB|
|Running a catalog search resulting in 400 items:||27KB|
|Viewing the YouTube home page:||230KB|
|Viewing the CNN home page:||500KB|
Q: How will you back up my data and what does it cost?
A: Our backup process is included in your Apollo subscription, so there's no extra charge. All data updates are instantly made to all servers in our Geographically Redundant environment. Plus, we back up all of your data every hour. This intense focus on data protection virtually eliminates any data loss. If one of the main servers goes down, we simply point your account to a server in a different city, and your library keeps running. Read about our facility.
Using a Hosted Service (top)
Q: What is a "hosted" service?
A: A service, or application, is "hosted" when the application is used and operated over the Internet. All software and data relating to the application are located on equipment operated by the application provider, as opposed to being resident on an in-library server. A browser is all that's needed to access and use the hosted service. This approach to application delivery is also called "Software as a Service" or an "Application Service Provider (ASP) model".
A: The advantages are many.
- There is no server to buy and maintain.
- Your hosted automation service operates on a server dedicated to that purpose. Management and security problems grow exponentially as the complexity of a system increases. When your internal server is performing multiple tasks (like automation, file serving, print serving, public worstation management, routing, etc.), this complexity makes your server harder to manage and more prone to failure. Ideally, if you do run your automation service on a server in your library, it should be dedicated to that single task. Such is the case with Apollo.
- In the ideal world, your backup procedure should be iron-clad, and you should test your restore procedure frequently to ensure that you could, in fact, recover data from a catastrophe. Most libraries aren't in a position to be able to do this. A hosted service assumes this responsibility for you.
- You have no responsibility to protect the data from hackers and other disasters. For organizations that do not have a full-time, top-notch Information Technology staff, this can be a very compelling reason to use the hosted approach.
- We can provide software upgrades faster and more reliably than server-based solutions. Our design and test cycles are greatly simplified since Apollo is written for browsers only, independent of Windows XP, Vista, Linux, whatever. Also, hardware requirements are very light.
- At-home access for patrons is an integral part of the system, without requiring paying for a static IP address or extra modules, and without you having to deal with routing rules to allow outside visitors into your system. (This can be a security nightmare!)
Q: How will I get upgrades and how much will they cost?
A: Typically, Apollo's new features are available to you automatically and they are free. No action is required on your part.
Q: I'm more comfortable having my data on my server in my library.
A: By using an in-house server, you gain non-reliance on the Internet, but you stand to lose a lot of system integrity. How many of these are true about a server at the library:
- instant duplication of all transactions in a different city
- a server devoted to a single function, minimizing complexity and the chance for failure, error, or breach.
- snapshots taken of all data and archived multiple times daily
- server located in a top tier datacenter with redundant connections, physical security, battery / diesel generator power backup, fire protection, redundant HVAC, etc.
Plus, you can download your own backup copy at any time, free. Some customers even setup an automated nightly download. Learn More
Migrating To and Using Apollo (top)
Q: How much of my library's data can you import into Apollo?
A: We have received accolades from customers regarding our demonstrated ability to bring in all of their data. We'll import all your MARC and patrons, of course, with all holding information. We'll import other data like fines, overdues, reserves, and notes. We've even imported patrons' birthdays from a spreadsheet. Make sure whatever automation product you choose doesn't make you leave data behind.
Q: Will I be able to use my existing barcode scanners and labels, and printers?
A: We haven't had a customer yet who needed to replace labels. Actually, the secret sauce there is between your scanner and the label!
Q: Do I still have to perform regular backups and practice my restore regimen?
A: Nope. You are freed to concentrate on running your library. Read about our backup and recovery processes.
Q: We are not automated and the price estimates I've been getting are based on the number of items to be converted. We just can’t afford it. Do you have a flat fee?
A: Yes! In a further effort to help small libraries, we've automated automation! It's BARC™ (Biblionix Automated Retrospective Conversion) and it's available to you for a flat fee.
Q: How will our public catalog stations and staff computers connect to and use Apollo?
A: They will use a browser to access the Internet and Apollo's servers. The same is true for patrons at home or the office. We will provide you with two URLs: one for your public catalog, like libraryname.biblionix.com, and one for staff access. Note that you can manage access to the admin capabilities with as many different passwords with different permissions as you desire.
Q: Patrons sometimes use our catalog stations for other purposes. Can that be prevented with Apollo?
A: Yes. Both Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers have a "kiosk" mode.
Q: Do you have any materials to help patrons enjoy Apollo?
A: Yes. We have guides for using the catalog and for using patron accounts. We make both of those available to you for your own editing/use as you see fit.
Q: Do you have any materials to help staff enjoy Apollo?
A: Yes. We have a Getting Started guide, tutorials, and free on-line training. Also the Apollo manual is extensive. Our customers are very successful at quickly adopting Apollo.
Q: What do you mean by "small- and medium-sized"?
A: That's a philosophical limit we've set for ourselves. It's not a technical, collection size, or circulation limit. We have customers with collections of over 140,000 and annual circulations of over 600,000. And, it's not a limit of features. Apollo is packed with capabilities you know you need as well as a host of elegant features that you'll find you and your patrons can't live without.
It is a limit of focus. We believe that automation systems that are targeted at many kinds of libraries cannot excel at serving any of them. So our tight focus allows us to concentrate all of our mindshare and resources, not dilute them. Accordingly, we turn away business from schools and other libraries to maintain our focus and continually strive to be the absolute best at serving our nation's non-big-city public libraries.
So if you are a public library that's not part of a big city system, Apollo could be right for you and your community. Let us help you experience an automation system that's designed by and for libraries like yours.
Q: Do support SIP2 for PC time/print management products and RFID products?
A: We do and it's no extra charge. There's more info here.
Q: Does Apollo have any self service capabilities, like self-checkout?
A: Yes. We offer Express Checkout and Self-signup. These require only a PC, not expensive proprietary equipment. Self-signup lets new patrons enter their own data instead of filling out a paper form. Plus renewing patrons can use it too.
Q: What about integration of e-Books and audio-Books?
A: We've worked with OverDrive to make seamless access a reality for you and your patrons. Also, you can add LibriVox and Project Gutenberg items to your catalog for free. These are over 40,000 public domain e-Books and audio-Books that have no copy protection and never need to be 'returned'. You won't find a better way to make so many electronic items available for your patrons at no charge.
Q: Can I get a demonstration?
A: You bet. Just send an email or call. We'll get back to you quickly to setup a time.
Q: Is there a way to try Apollo and still keep my library operating normally with my current automation system?
A: Yes, indeed. You can try Apollo free, with your data, and with no obligation. All while, your library operates normally. Your comfort and confidence are paramount, so take as long as you like and feel free to ask questions. See our Migration Guide (PDF) for details.
Q: We don't have a website. How will our patrons access Apollo?
A: You don't need a website for your patrons to access Apollo. There are several options:
- They can go directly to a simple URL like "libraryname.biblionix.com".
- Often, a name like "libraryname.lib.state.us" can be obtained free, and pointed to the Apollo URL.
NOTE: in all of these cases, your Apollo catalog home page can display your hours, location, and a message. This provides you much of the functionality of a home page.
Q: So many of the automation companies I've found focus on schools. Is Biblionix different?
A: Absolutely. According to Library Journal of April 1, 2011, there is no other automation vendor that exclusively addresses small- and medium-sized public libraries. We devote our thinking to what makes your library tick and what you and your patrons need. This helps us tightly focus our resources with the goal of providing exactly the capabilities that help you succeed. This a promise we've made to our customers.