Every Library Should Have a Sandbox to Play In

Every Library Should Have a Sandbox to Play InNotes from the 2009 Internet Librarian Conference

Matt Hamilton
What is a sandbox?
Safety model Place to test code that is isolated from production environment
Software development model test installation that allows to role back changes as necessary
Wiki model environment not consider production but just for ppl to learn new skills

Who can learn from software – staff, ppl who want to play & learn, helps keep up on cutting edge technologies, small IT staff to explore if its worth to develop expertise in something

Sandbox is a safe place to place
Learning environment
Inviate patrons to be beta testers, get feedback before implement new services
Is this something that is really going to be good for patrons but something were just enamored with for the moment.
Place to perfect your craft –

Two approaches – and internal option
Lisa Haitts at
Installs software that is heard about at conferences

How do you make it happen? 3 approaches
Virtual appliance marketplace, from VMware preconfigured virtual machines

Wanted to be the type of IT department that says yes, still have mission to protect data etc so can’t just say use, but can say yes, but…

Working with virtual desktops, so when patrons log into machines they would also see their own desktop, own software etch

Bitnami – free, includes a small SQL & linux installation, and allows you to run about 24 apps, can install on home pc or an old pc in the back
Also have virtual machines, doesn’t require a server, there are machines
Probably wouldn’t trust to run production environment, but great to play around with

JumpBox – will cost, will run on a server or a virtual machine
Can put into a production environment
Includes administrative panel, control back ups enable ssh

If IT dept isn’t comfortable with it you can install all of these in the cloud with Amazon EC2, Bitnami & Jumpbox both have agreements with Aamazon so both services are both available


Greg Schwartz
Have you flood proofed your sandbox?
Ask a few key questions before you start your project
Why are you doing this? What are you trying to accomplish? How does it tie itself to the mission of you library?
If you can’t answer those questions you’re wasting your time and your resources

Do you have a plan? Sure
But do you have a plan b? What will you do when your plans don’t work out, can adapt & move fwd

Got support? Everybody has so much to do already, how do you get staff buy in? How do you get them to be willing to play explore and learn
Do you have commitment? You can’t just set up a sandbox and walk away from

Are you sure you have the time?

Do you have a plan? Even if the sandbox is just for play you may need access to that information?

Looking for a place to allow an employee to play & explore but want it for a long term option not just for play, so is the virtual environment the right place for that? IT wants to use a virtual machine to avoid installing anything ever on the PC
Matt – yes it’s a great use
Stephen – SLA innovation lab, free to use & play with for any member

How do you get people to play?
Matt – it’s include in directors goals,
He doesn’t ask people to do anything; he waits for them to ask him
references Bobbi Newman (hey thats me!) – Stop talking about the tools
Stephen tie it to their value system
Audience – make it fun, do it in public so others can see it and ask
Have staff bring in and share stuff

Distinction between internally & externally facing sandboxes
Redesigning website, allow patrons to beta test?

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