Library: Never the Twain Shall Meet

cardCatalogDuring a recent visit to a library near you, I was trying to find a book via the online card catalog.

[I remember when card catalogs were on actual cards, in drawers, like the one pictured. Yikes!]

I was trying to find a book by someone who runs an analytics blog that I frequent, but I couldn’t remember the guy’s last name.

This particular library has separate computers for accessing the online catalog and surfing the Internet and never the twain shall meet. I assume they do it that way because they want to make sure a few computers are always available to do either task.

Also, this online catalog looked more like an application, one that was NOT running in a browser. No other normal Windows operating system options were available.

I needed to look it the guy’s name, and I had left my phone at home.

I peered across the library to see if any of the Internet computers were free. I was in luck.

But I’m also lazy.

I didn’t want to leave the online catalog computer, walk across the library, log onto a surfing computer, find the guy’s name, trek back across the library, and then return to the online catalog to find his book.

So I did what every other respectable, curious auditor would do.

Look for a way around.

I quickly ran my eyes over the entire application. For the first time, I noticed a link to the “Library Website”, so I clicked it.

Sure enough, the online catalog application disappeared, and a browser opened. Then the library website popped up, and a buzzer sounded in my brain. This computer DOES have Internet access.

Could it really be that simple, I asked myself.

I entered the Google URL, and bingo, I was on Google.

Then I was on any website I desired. Nice.

So what?

ONE, the online catalog does NOT require a login to search for items. Only if you want to reserve or request an item do you need to log in.

TWO, since you don’t log in, the library can’t track the websites that YOU SPECIFICALLY go to (only that SOMEONE went there—yeah!).

THREE, the surfing computers have strict time limits–they actually time out and won’t let you back in for a predetermined period.

FOUR, at least a couple of online catalog computers are always available, which isn’t true of the surfing computers (during busy periods).

FIVE, some of the online catalog computers are in less conspicuous parts of the library, which provides more privacy than using the big bank of online catalog computers near the front of the library. Another lone reed.

If this story sounds a little familiar, that’s because I had a similar adventure in another library, in a place far, far away. I think the librarians must be cousins. See Always Attack the Lone Reed.

My other library caper: Library Checkout: Touch Screen, Lose Password


Filed under Security, Security Scout, Technology

2 responses to “Library: Never the Twain Shall Meet

  1. John

    What turned out to be his name. Would you say you recommend his insights?


    • Dear John,
      His name is Dr. Vincent Granville, and he runs It’s a great site, free to join, and links to many free data science books and articles.

      However, I will warn you, his site is about serious data analytics (predictive analytics, using models, looking forward) not the type most audit departments do (descriptive analytics, looking backwards). It is not for the faint of heart, but again, he has some good material that is helpful for auditors.

      While he recommends analytics in Excel (I urge anyone to search for his Excel tricks and tips), mostly his site discusses high-end analytics using tools like R, python, SAS, SQL, etc.

      I suggest you sign up for his free newsletter to get a feeling for the site. He also runs



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