Teleconferencing: Delivering Library Service in the 21st Century

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Teleconferencing: Delivering Library Service in the 21st Century was a program presented by Ken Behn, Southern Tier Library System, and Jerry Schell, North Country Library System, November 4, 2011, at the New York Library Association annual conference. View a PowerPoint Slide Show powerpoint icon [551k] or a .PDF format pdf icon [586k] version of same. Text of the PowerPoint appears below, along with text of a "checklist" document.

Text from the PowerPoint


  • What is teleconferencing?
  • Definitions
  • Why should a library consider it?
  • How does it add value to my library?
  • Who provides teleconferencing equipment?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What are the issues/hurdles to be overcome?

What is teleconferencing?

  • Real-time exchange of information between two or more sites that are remote from each other, but are linked by a telecommunications system (phone system, Internet, etc.)
    • Conference call
    • Video conference
      • Simultaneous video and audio
      • Skype – “personal” videoconference
      • For the library – group-to-group, content sharing


  • Codec - “CPU”
    • Coder/Decoder
    • Video/Audio streams -> data “packets”
    • Compression (up to 500:1)
    • Single Port/Multi-Port (4 or 8)
  • Bandwidth
    • Capacity of a data connection
    • Measured in Mbps or Kbps (Megabits or Kilobits per second)
    • Upload (local to remote)/Download (remote to local)
    • Asynchronous – Upload speed is different from download speed (Cable, DSL, FiOS)
    • Synchronous (10 Mbps x 10 Mbps Ethernet)
  • Firewall
    • A hardware device or software program that regulates the flow of data according to a defined set of rules.
    • LAN <-> Firewall <-> Internet
    • Default
      • All outbound traffic is permitted
      • All inbound traffic is denied
    • IP address – Internet “phone number”
      • Port – IP address “extension” – 65,000+ ports for each address
  • Connection Methods
    • IP – Internet Protocol
    • ISDN
      • Dedicated POTS lines that are specially configured to transmit and receive voice, video and data.
      • Fancy dial-up
      • Usually a basic monthly charge + cost of each “call”
      • Expensive!
  • Bridge
    • Multipoint device – up to 48 sites
  • Gateway
    • Connects IP and ISDN sites
  • Videoconferencing Standards
    • H.323 - the master protocol for all VC components
    • H.261 – Standard definition video
    • H.264 – High definition video
    • H.239 – Dual stream video
      • Simultaneous video/desktop sharing

Why Consider it?

Adding Value

  • Creates partnerships
    • County Fire Coordinators
      • Training for volunteers
    • Cooperative Extension
  • Access to content that would otherwise be unavailable
    • Cemetery Class offered by Carthage PCC
  • Convenience for Job Seekers
    • Interview via VC rather than travel

VC Equipment Manufacturers

  • Polycom
    • 45% Market Share (Wainhouse 2011)
  • Tandberg (Cisco)
    • 25% Market Share (Wainhouse 2011)
  • LifeSize (division of Logitech)
    • Smaller but increasing market share
    • Sales are increasing 2x rate of overall market

We Chose LifeSize

  • EASE OF USE!!!
    • Minimum support from IT
  • Best Low-Bandwidth Performance/Quality
    • Auto-Adjusts
  • Easy Setup/Management
    • Done via remote or Web browser


  • Basic Single Point - $2,500
    • Codec (720p30)
    • Fixed focus camera
      • Built-in mics
      • Manual pan/tilt
    • 3 years maintenance/support
    • Display and mobility cart not included
  • Better Single Point - $7,000
    • Codec (1080p30/720p60) w/ dual display ports
    • Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) HD camera
    • VoIP phone
    • 3 year maintenance and support
    • Display and mobility cart not included
  • 4 port Multi-Point - $11,500
    • Codec (1080p30/720p60) w/ dual display ports
    • Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) HD camera (has 2 inputs)
    • VoIP phone
    • 3 year maintenance and support
    • Display and mobility cart not included
  • HD TV or Projector
    • Max. Size – (# inches between TV and audience) / 1.5
    • Min. Size – inches/3
    • Avg. size – inches/2.5
      • 10 feet – 40” min, 48” avg, 80” maximum
    • Recommended minimum – 52”
    • Go as big as you can
  • Accessories
    • Mobility Cart - $400-$600
  • Options
    • Video Recording and Playback (Streaming)
    • Bridges and Gateways
    • $1,000’s!


  • Bandwidth
    • High Definition (up AND down)
      • 720p30 – 768Kbps
      • 720p60 – 1.1 Mbps
      • 1080p30 – 1.7 Mbps
  • Firewall
    • Typical Internet session uses one port
    • VC uses one standard port to initiate call.
    • Once initial connection established, additional ports are needed for the actual audio/video.
    • Ports are dynamically allocated by each codec, and differ for each vendor.
    • Making It Work
      • If available, assign a dedicated public IP to VC unit
        • Deny access to admin ports, permit everything else
      • If available, enable H.323 features of firewall
        • Cisco ASA – H.323 inspection
          • Determines what dynamic ports are needed and opens them for duration of VC call
      • Ensure firewall supports H.239 for presentation
        • Software upgrade
  • Adoption
    • “Champion” – not IT person
      • Who handles programming now?
  • Set up/Tear Down/Reservations
  • Tech Support
    • In-house/library system/vendor
  • Conference Room
    • Wall Color, Lighting
  • Storage - secure


  • LifeSize: Paul Strawn, Major Accounts Manager, (732) 387-0201; pstrawn @
  • Polycom: John Palaszynski, GEM Account Manager, Upstate NY/VT/NH, (518) 783-3852; John.Palaszynski @
  • Tandberg: Josh Levy, Account Manager, NYS Government, (518) 339-7731;Josh_Levy @
  • CDW-G (Reseller of all three brands): Charles Piendl, (866) 819-6502; charpie @
  • Ken Behn, Information Technology Consultant, Southern Tier Library System, (607) 962-3141 x211; behnk @
  • Jerry Schell, Information Technology Manager, North Country Library System, (315) 782-5540; jschell @

Demo Equipment

LifeSize Passport
PTZ camera

LifeSize SoftPhone software


Checklist for

Teleconferencing: Delivering Library Service in the 21st Century November 4, 2011

also in .PDF format pdf icon [146k]

Your Video Conferencing Purchase decision should be based on three factors:

    • Features and functionality you desire
    • Your environmental requirements such as room size, lighting, and acoustics
    • Your budget to support your VC implementation

Your anticipated use will drive your features and function decision.

Your physical environment will determine things like screen size, microphone and sound requirements, and the need for mobility or not.

The equipment is only one part of your overall budget requirements: Installation, Training and Support must also be considered in your total costs.

Before Purchasing:

Have an on-site demo in the room, or a similar room, where the equipment will be located and used.

Have a discussion with the vendor concerning your current bandwidth status, and recommendations or need for additional bandwidth.

Discuss any ancillary costs with the vendor that may have not been itemized on the worksheets, ie. VC Content Libraries.

Data for Decisions

It may be helpful to utilize the Videoconferencing Checklist (below) when assessing various Videoconferencing alternatives.

Videoconference Equipment Checklist




Point to Point Video Conferencing [3]
Video conference between two sites


Multi-Point Video Conferencing [3]
Video Conferencing between 2 or more sites


HD Video Camera, no Pan/Zoom/Tilt (PZT) [1]


HD Video Camera with Zoom


HD Video Camera with Pan/Zoom/Tilt (PZT) [1]


Omni-Directional Microphone(s)


Integrated VOIP Phone with Microphone(s) & Speaker


Simultaneous Data and Video Display


Video Display(s)


Mobility Cart




Room Size


Wall Color




Installation, Training and Support [2]






Support Agreement




Video Recording
Video recording allows recording of a Video Conference session


Video Streaming
Streaming media technology allows real time or on demand delivery of recorded or stored multimedia.


ISDN Broadband Support Required




May want to consider 2 cameras - 1 facing front, 1 facing rear


Agreements should be available for review


Please consult with vendor regarding bandwidth requirements

Last Updated: March 28, 2012