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Baltimore County Now

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Date: Jan 8, 2014

Beyond the BookshelvesRob Stradling, Director
Baltimore County Office of Information Technology

Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) Director Jim Fish has good reason to boast about their circulation numbers, which show that BCPL continues to be one of the best and busiest library systems in the country and is being used by more people for more reasons than ever before. In 2012, BCPL checked out a whopping 10.7 million pieces of material and serviced 5.5 million walk-in customers in its 19 branches and 4 bookmobiles. Most of us see traditional libraries as buildings filled with books, music and movies, but if you pay a visit to your local branch, you’ll see how the traditional public library is changing. For example, did you know that in 2012, BCPL also had more than 5 million hits on its website, provided computer access to over 1.1 million citizens through the use of its public PCs and Wi-Fi network, and circulated more than 226,000 electronic books?

Today, libraries, including BCPL, depend on their ability to adapt to the needs of the community, with technology fueling much of that adaptability. The typical library customer is changing, too. In addition to countless shelves of traditional printed materials, Baltimore County residents will soon have reliable high-speed access to the digital world, when the County installs a broadband fiber-optic network (BCON) to connect various County buildings, including the Library and its branches. The County will begin by connecting BCPL Administrative Offices and 10 branches, with the cost savings increasing as the remaining branches are connected to BCON.

To satisfy customer demand and take advantage of technology, I worked with BCPL Director Jim Fish to conduct a Business Process Analysis (BPA) of the Library’s technology function to improve service delivery, streamline workflows and reduce redundancies. The BPA identified several major areas in which BCPL and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) were duplicating efforts, resources and contracts. Consolidation in these areas will save significant taxpayer dollars — more than $143,000 annually. 

Overall, the measures identified in the BPA will save the Library nearly $500,000 by the end of FY15. Even more importantly, these projects lay the foundation for OIT and BCPL to work together to continue to uncover more innovative ways to deliver improved services at lower costs. Additionally, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz intends to fund the Library Equipment Refresher Projects to the tune of $1 million, which will replace the Library’s technology equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life. 

Future innovations will include many similar technology projects. Continually seeking and exploiting the combined resources of OIT and the Library’s Technical Support functions will reinforce the existing partnership between OIT and BCPL. Over time, that spirit of cooperation and unity will reward the citizens of Baltimore County with a library that still includes those bookshelves, but one that also lives on the forefront of technology.


image of a lock on a cell phoneBaltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger

As much as our smart phones and GPS gadgets make life easier for all of us, they also can be a great resource for thieves and other criminals to help them steal from us. Below are some scams which are making the rounds. Don’t become a victim. Read on and protect yourself and your family.

WHILE YOU’RE AWAY

family went on vacation and left their car in the long-term parking lot at the airport. Someone broke into the car. Using the information on the car’s registration, kept in the glove compartment, the thieves drove to the people’s home and burglarized it.

What should you do?

If you are going to leave your car in long-term parking, do not leave the registration/insurance cards or your remote garage door opener in the car.

GPS

Someone had their car broken into while they were at a football game. Things stolen from the car included a garage door opener, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard.  When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked. The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house and then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game so they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and how much time they had to clean out the house.

What Should You Do?

DON’T put your home address in the GPS!  Put a nearby location (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know where you live if your GPS is stolen.

CELL PHONES

A woman’s handbag, containing her cell phone, credit cards, wallet, etc., was stolen.  Twenty minutes later when she called her husband from a pay phone telling him what had happened, he said, “I received your text asking about our PIN number and I replied a little while ago.”  When they rushed to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn.  The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text ‘hubby’ in the contact list and got hold of the pin number. 

What Should You Do?

Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list.  Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Dad, Mom, etc. And very importantly, when sensitive information is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back.  Or just don’t text sensitive information. Also, when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them. If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going places to meet ‘family and friends who text you.


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