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Userful Desktop™ 8 - Features

Userful Desktop 8 Includes:

HP Hardware with 3 year onsite warranty



Time Management and Computer Reservation


Userful's countdown clock times user's sessions, warns them when the session is about to end and logs the user out. If you wish to have Userful integrate with your ILS, there are two additional time management options: Usage Tracker and Pre-Book.

Prebook Lg
Usage Tracker

The Usage Tracker add-on coordinates every computer in a library to ensure that each user gets no more than a predefined time allotment. You can ensure equitable computer access for all patrons without purchasing an extra server. Once a user's time has been used he or she cannot get back on a computer station without staff approval.

Pre-Book™ Computer Reservation System

Pre-Book is a full featured, open source, PC booking and reservation system. Patrons can book time on a station from home, the office, school, or using a walk-up booking at the library itself. Policy settings ensure that the library retains full control over usage.

Pre-Book supports both Userful Desktop and Windows® PCs. It runs on a separate server. Features include:

  • Maximum usage restrictions (across all locations by day and/or week)
  • Advance reservation
  • Station availability charts
  • Unreserved walk-up-and-use stations
  • Immediate book: reserve next available station
  • Email reminders and reservation holding "grace periods"
  • Penalties for no-show reservations
  • Double-booking prevention
  • Client software for both Windows and Linux
  • Autoextend patron sessions

Pre-Book is available as a free download for both the server software and Windows client software. If you need help integrating Pre-Book with an external authentication system (such as your library automation system or LDAP), you can purchase integration or commercial support.

Please note: Due to the comprehensive nature of the Userful Desktop support package, a commercial support contract is required when using Pre-Book in conjunction with Userful Desktop.

Patron Authentication

Userful Desktop can be integrated with your library management system, allowing you to monitor and control access and usage. Userful has worked with libraries across North America and Europe to ensure that Userful Desktop integrates well with major library systems: SirsiDynix, Innovative, GEAC, TLC, Polaris, and Endeavor. Userful supports standard protocols including SIP, SIP2, LDAP, and NCIP.

Patron Authentication

The Patron Authentication module enables you to limit access to users in good standing with a valid library card, and optionally force children into filtered Internet sessions.

Patron Authentication can be combined with Userful's Usage Tracker or Pre-Book to enforce daily per-patron time limits and allow advanced reservations.


Print Cost Recovery


Userful's print control features reduce unnecessary print output and allows you to recover printing costs.

Print Cost Recovery Control

Userful Desktop has a configurable print cost control dialog box built in. When a user prints from any application, Userful Desktop calculates and displays print-job costs for the user's approval before paper and time are wasted. This pop-up can also display custom messages like instructions on how to retrieve and pay for their printout. Receipts can optionally be included with the print job.

Userful also offers three add-on options. The first is a print queue management option that holds print jobs until a staff member releases them. This ensures no printouts are made until they are paid for. Our second add on is a coin/bill or card payment system that makes your print cost recovery program entirely self-service for patrons. Patrons approach the print payment kiosk, select their print out, and pay for the job. The third is a wireless internet printing option that enables you to provide printing services to patrons using laptops connected to the library's wireless network.

Userful's print control can be used in conjunction with virtually all printers and will minimize frustrations -- both patrons' and yours -- by reducing wasted time, paper and ink.


Secure Desktops and Patron Privacy


Locked KeyboardLocked-down and tamper-proof, Userful Desktop ensures each user sits down to a clean, intuitive and consistent interface. When a user logs off the station is cleared of browser histories and downloaded files, guaranteeing their privacy.

Userful Desktop's security architecture and built-in firewall protects the stations from malware and unauthorized access. Immunity from viruses, spyware and hackers means your staff and patrons don't have to worry about threats from the Internet or from abusive users.


Remotely Monitor and Control Stations


Userful's Remote Monitoring and Control module allows your help desk and support staff to monitor and control all Userful Desktops on the network (LAN).

Remote Management Administration Website

Authorized staff can:

  • Send messages to patrons stations
  • Add or subtract time to one or more stations
  • Log stations in and out
  • View station status and time remaining
  • View status and usage reports

Full control enables staff to work more efficiently and avoid conflict by being able to remotely monitor and control Userful Desktops without actually being there. We even have a feature that will make it easy to deal with unruly patrons without confronting them.

Advanced users can also remotely perform technical support and troubleshooting tasks such as starting and stopping services and rebooting computers. They can easily run other diagnostic and administrative commands.

  • Secure, password-protected and encrypted interface - only authorized users can interact with stations
  • Common actions and status all on one screen - complete control without becoming a system administrator
  • Administrate stations in real time - see and resolve problems as they arise


Usage Statistics


Userful includes a full usage statistics feature. It collects high-level patron usage stats on number of sessions, length of sessions, type of sessions, electricity savings, and much more. You can pull statistics based on day, branch or even station with the Usage Report feature.

Usage reports can be used to help make decisions about how to improve patron experience. They're perfect for reporting to the library board or city council about the importance of your public computers to the community.


Optional CIPA Internet Filtering


CIPA Internet FilteringUserful Desktop's optional Internet filtering combines a comprehensive URL database with intelligent keyword filtering. It's natively installed and controlled on a per computer basis, not firewall based, yet centrally managed from a website. This provides better control than a firewall based filter, with easy management through the cloud.

Add your own custom settings and rules to create a unique filter that meets your needs. Userful Desktop can also integrate with your existing filtering solution.

  • CIPA-compliant
  • Have different levels of filtering for adults and children
  • Turn off the filter for a patron with a simple keystroke and password
  • Includes a "walled garden" feature limiting browsing to a predefined list of websites -- ideal for kids stations or OPAC stations


OPAC Catalog StationsDm Library


Userful makes it easy to deploy stations to access your catalog and other databases. The included Userful Manager administration website offers a pre-configured kiosk option, limiting access to a full screen web browser.


You can further limit access in two ways:


  • Use Userful Manager to remove the URL field and only allow patrons to follow links they find in your catalog and databases.
  • Use the Walled Garden feature in the Internet filtering section of Userful Manager. This will limit access to a predefined set of URLs ensuring that even if your catalog links to a search engine, your patrons cannot follow it.

Remember to ask about our special discount pricing for Catalog-only stations.


Safe and Fun Access for Kids


Userful Children's Desktops include everything you need to promote early literacy in your library with safe computer and Internet access for kids. Age-related session profiles guide children to the activities suitable for them.

KidsProvide customizable access to a selection of over 30 age-appropriate edutainment, educational, recreational and reference software for children, as well as age-independent apps such as an office suite, and internet browser.

Librarians can add web-based games and sites using Userful's secure internet filtering. This enables you to introduce a whitelist of safe webpages for kids, confident that they can not visit innapropriate websites. You can also put graphical icons on the desktop for each website, making it easy for children to find links to fun and educational sites.


Toll Free Phone Support


Customer ServiceOur support guarantee is simple: You won't ever need to worry about maintaining or fixing your computers.

All Userful hardware comes with a 3 year onsite HP warranty. Userful takes care of all the software support and sends automatic updates remotely over the Internet. Support also includes a toll-free phone number, email and web-based support.

At Userful, support isn't just being there when something goes wrong. It's being proactive and continually updating and improving the system based on your requests and your patrons' needs.


Automatic Updates


Userful Desktop checks for software updates daily and downloads them accordingly. Every application can be automatically kept up to date, depending on the needs of the library. Userful Desktop can be set to only update the software when it becomes end of life, or download new versions whenever they become available. Choose the update setting that best suits your library: Stable Updates, Newest Updates, No Updates. You can change your update setting any time with the click of a button.


Cloud Management



Userful Manager is an easy-to-use administration website that gives you complete centralized control over your patrons experience from any Internet browser. In a recent survey, Userful customers reported an average of 54% IT staff time savings, as compared to their previous public computing solutions.

The entire look, feel and functionality of each computer station across all branches is yours to define -- it's up to you what your patrons can and can't do on the computers. Setup every computer station to be identical, or setup multiple station types without fiddling with each computer; it's all accessed from a single website, and all settings are saved in the cloud.

It's easy to get started. You can select from pre-made desktop options (for instance a kids station, an OPAC station, or an Internet and Office station) then further customize each session. Or you can use our wizard to quickly and easily design your own custom desktop from scratch.

Some of the many things you can control through the Userful Manager administration website:

  • Print cost recovery settings
  • Optional CIPA internet filtering
  • Remote imaging
  • Acceptable use policy
  • Artwork and branding on the stations
  • Desktop shortcuts
  • Programs to launch on startup
  • Opening hours
  • Early log-off to facilitate closing time
  • Sessions available on each station
  • ILS authentication
  • Internet browser home page
  • Languages available
  • Amount to charge non-library card holders for computer access
  • Warning messages about end of a session
  • Station numbering and naming
  • and much more!

Changed Your Mind? No Problem!

All settings can be easily changed at any time. If you have 100 stations deployed for catalog only and decide 20 of them should be Internet and Office, you don't need to reimage, test, and redeploy the stations. Simply log into the Userful Manager website, and make the change in a few clicks. The next time your stations call home, they'll update themselves.


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