February 2, 2015

Microsoft Home Use Program

Question: In the past we were able to purchase Microsoft Office when the city upgraded to a new version (for a heavily discounted price) for our home use. I tried to purchase the new Office 2013 and was told I needed to have a valid program code from my company or institutions beneficiary Administrator and a use of a work related email as well. I verified that I had a city email address. Does this mean we are no longer eligible to get this software discount any longer?

It was really nice to have the same version of the software at home as we have at work. I will be sad to hear that is no longer available.


Answer by the Library Communications Team:  This benefit is once again available to employees.  The information needed, including the product code which is unique to the City of Virginia Beach, can be found here.  From home, log into Beachnet using your Active Directory login and password.  Choose the Technology Services tab at the top of the page, then select Software from the drop down menu.  Microsoft Home Use Program is at the top of the list of the next menu that pops up.    After clicking on that page, you can then copy the product code, use the enclosed link to go to the ordering page and you’ll have Office 2013 in no time!

January 13, 2015


Question:  Will there ever be a resolution to the problems customers encounter when logging into SAM?? This has been an ongoing problem for months and months.  Customers will get a message saying their PIN is invalid. They often will have to try 2 to 3 different computers.  Also, they will have ample funds on their card to print, but SAM will show they have no funds on their card.  This is not good customer service.

Answer by Susan Morris, Library Technology Services Manager:  Both TS and ComIT are aware of the ongoing issues with SAM and the invalid PIN message.  Much investigation by the vendor and ComIT has not exposed the source of the problem.  Without being able to catch an occurrence as it is happening, they’re not able to obtain diagnostic data needed. We’re asking staff to be our eyes and ears for noticing any patterns that might be related.  Locations should document and send issues as they occur to TS.  Include specific date and time, computer number, customer id, and what you did to resolve the problem (Please note that in most cases, restarting the computer will resolve this issue.).  TS will follow up with the vendor again.

TS is also aware of the payment processing issues with SmartPay (perpetual spinning wait cursor, payment not processed). We are in the process of upgrading the online payment software with Comprise. Testing began this week.  Once complete, TS will announce the date it will be available in the live system. If you are experiencing other issues related to account balances in SAM, please report to TS as soon as possible.

Over the next six months, TS will be analyzing the department’s requirements for PC activity management and printer control software for potential replacement or upgrade.  Watch for future announcements on how you can participate in the process.

December 15, 2014

Service Awards

Question:     How is it determined whether you get a service award or not when part of your time served is part time and part is full time?  1 year award received as part time then moved to full time.  Does it start over with another 1 year award, or does your time keep going to 5 and 10 years?

Answer by Dawn Chabrol, Library Administration:  Initially, the City only recognized full-time members for service awards.  When VBPL decided, several years ago, to recognize part-time staff for service awards, the Service Awards Team decided that we would only give (one) 1-year pin. This pin would be the one reflected by the member's current PT/FT status as of the November 30th deadline of the award year.  

For example, if a member was part-time from September 2013 but went full-time October 15th 2014, this would mean that on November 30, 2014 (the deadline/cut-off for eligibility) they were actually full-time.  They would receive a 1-year pin for being full-time at the December 2015 program.  They would not receive a 1 year pin for being part-time at the 2014 program because their status had changed from part-time to full-time before the November 2014 deadline.

Mandatory Training

Question:  Why are mandatory trainings being held continually when it leaves a skeleton crew in the library to assist customers?

Answer by the Library Communications Team:  Recently there were some mandatory trainings held for managers, IS IIIs and Supervisors that utilized previously scheduled meeting times.  In addition, required EEO training was scheduled for the rest of the staff.  Several training dates with varying times were available for that training to accommodate agency staffing.

Calendar Templates

Question:     This is more of a request than a question.  I'd like to ask that our marketing department try a bit harder to be responsive to the needs of the front line staff.  We have to submit items for Update months in advance but we don't get the same courtesy in receiving the calendar templates in a timely enough fashion.  Templates for January 2015 were just posted Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, and with the holidays, vacation time, and not a lot of off-desk time, that's a pretty short window for staff to get all the entries made and calendars produced. (Note that 6 months of calendars are posted at one time and this problem happens each time we are waiting for the next set.) Everyone in the Library department is extremely busy, so if marketing could please realize that the front-line staff have time-sensitive needs as well, it would be greatly appreciated.

Answer by Christine Brantley, Community Relations and Development Manager:  Thanks for your sharing your comments. Please know that the marketing team understands that front line staff have time-sensitive needs for materials and our goal is to get the right resources to you in a timely manner. Like all staff at VBPL, our team manages a variety of projects and must constantly adjust priorities and deadlines based on most pressing needs. So there are times when materials are not distributed as soon as intended. We apologize for the inconvenience that causes.

In the case of the calendar templates you mentioned, the first 8 months of 2015 (Jan. - Aug.) were posted to SharePoint on Wed., Dec. 10. The remaining 4 months, (Sept. - Dec. 2015) are scheduled to be posted by April 1 if not sooner. Our team is always assessing our internal processes and our capacity and we'll continue to make adjustments as we can to ensure we're providing the best possible materials and information to you and for our customers.

November 20, 2014

Purchases for Local History/Genealogy

Question:     Who in Libraries made the decision to purchase matchbooks, pillow covers, and silver serving trays? What money was used to make these purchases? How does any of this fit with the strategic plan of the Library Department?

Answer by Pat Cook, Central Librarian, M.E.O. Central Library:  Who in Libraries made the decision to purchase matchbooks, pillow covers, and silver serving trays?
Pat Cook purchased most of these items, though some were donations from customers. The local history collection needs to connect with all of our citizens whether they are natives of Princess Anne County/Virginia Beach or have moved here.  This includes those whose first encounter with the area was due to military service. Most of these items were purchased using the Central Library City Credit Card, when that happens Pat gets the bill, it was approved by David, was then approved by Marcy, who then got approval from Cindy Curtis and then everything went to finance who then approved the expense. 

The matchbook covers (they no longer have the matches in them J) were purchased to enhance the collection of materials about local businesses, either current or defunct, in the Virginia Beach and Tidewater area.  In many cases these covers may be the only record remaining concerning a business that was well known at the time of its existence. Customers looking through the notebook that has copies of the covers have been excited when they recognized a restaurant, motel, gas station or business they had forgotten.  These covers help our customers “ take a walk down memory lane” and have resulted in donations of additional local history materials.

The pillow covers were purchased as display items to help promote the local history collection.  These were sold as gifts to servicemen to send to their family and friends and often say “To my Sweetheart” “To my Wife” “To my mother and father”, they list the branch of or location of service -  Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, or one of the local military bases. When they were in the display cases in the local history area, we had many comments about the fact that family members still had these from servicemen from WWI and WW2. In fact we had someone come in yesterday to see the display (which is no longer there) and said they had one of these cases.

The silver plated serving tray, was purchased along with other local military base memorabilia for displays to promote the local history collection which includes military materials.  This tray was given to the retiring commander of Camp Bradford (Camp Bradford was part of what is now Little Creek Fort Story Joint Expeditionary Base).   The inscription is Captain and Mrs. J W Whitfield, USN, From officers of Camp Bradford, September 1944.   The Information Services staff researched this officer for information to be included in the display to recognize May as National Military Appreciation Month:

James Walter Whitfield was born 25 Jan 1895 and died 31 July 1965. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy (Class of 1918) from Delaware, serving from June 1914 to January 1947.  He retired with the rank of Rear Admiral.  In addition to Camp Bradford, he served on various ships including the Albany, Ohio, Colorado, Chester, Mugford and Calvert. He had several awards including the Legion of Merit with gold star, the Navy Commendation Ribbon and Army Commendation Ribbon as well as several campaign medals.  In retirement he was a sales representative for various electronics companies.  There is no record of a marriage or children.  In his spare time he raised Siberian huskies, winning several prizes in dog shows

What money was used to make these purchases? Some but not all other paper ephemera including the matchbooks, also photographs, records and tapes of music from Virginia Beach residents or about Virginia Beach came from Materials Management funds last year when there was a budget for the LHGN and Archive if not from MM budget they were from the CL budget.  Memorabilia such as the pillow covers and the Camp Bradford tray, purchased as display materials were typically purchased using the CL budget as are most programming and display materials. The Friends of Virginia Beach Public Library have provided funding for digitization of books and microfilm and any additional money needed for digitization comes from the CL budget.  I do want to note that MM bought a FANTASTIC scanner that is used by the digitizing crew in LHGN!!

How does any of this fit with the strategic plan of the Library Department? As a City Department VBPL needs to be in alignment with City goals and initiatives.  We support the City’s strategic initiatives including the following from the Cultural and Recreational Opportunity Strategic Initiative Team:

CRO 1.02: We engage the community in developing and promoting Cultural and Recreational Opportunities through mutually beneficial relationships.
Within this strategy is the initiative: 
INI-04696: Invite citizens to contribute to the Princess Anne County/Virginia Beach Archives to ensure collection growth.
Within this initiative is the activity:
ACT-04713: Ensure there are unique and appropriate items in this collection that when used in presentations will pique citizens' interest and encourage them to explore the collection further.

The citizens of Virginia Beach have become more and more involved with this collection and are starting to take an active part in enhancing it!  We have gone from a tiny group of materials to the need to expand our facilities AGAIN! This is a wonderful way to use the past to provide for future generations!  I hope this has answered your questions, if not I would be happy to discuss the LHGN collection and LHGN Archives with anyone who interested and would love to come and talk at any staff meeting! 

November 17, 2014

Duplicate copies of Inside VBPL

Question:  For the past month, I have been getting the new edition of Inside VBPL at 8pm and then again at 10pm.  I have not made any changes to my account  that would give me two copies.  Is there a way to stop receiving this extra copy?  Thanks!

Answer by Lennis Sullivan, Digital Services Librarian:  I will need more information to troubleshoot this issue. Please contact me so I can investigate this further.