Local libraries sidelined by malware attack

The Newport Public Library lost a variety of essential computer services last week after a malware attack shut down Tillamook County government’s computers. Driftwood Public Library in Lincoln City also lost services. The libraries share a network server with the Tillamook County Library District. (Photo by Steve Card)

LINCOLN COUNTY — The Newport Public Library and the Driftwood Public Library in Lincoln City lost a variety of essential computer services last week after a malware attack shut down Tillamook County government’s computers. The two Lincoln County libraries share a network server with the Tillamook County Library District.

“We found out about it Tuesday morning (Jan. 21), but they weren’t quite sure what was going on,” Newport Library Director Laura Kimberly told the News-Times on Monday. “Nothing was working. It was a malware attack; someone opened an email that caused all these issues.”

Kimberly said she was told on Sunday the system could be down for as long as another 72 hours, but Tuesday morning, she reported that services had been restored Monday evening.

“Tillamook was able to starting bringing their servers back up last night,” Kimberly said in an email sent out Tuesday morning. “Everything stayed up overnight, and we've been given the all clear to start cleaning up this mess.”

Kimberly said during the outage, they couldn’t sign people up for library cards, renew a book already checked out, place items on hold, do anything with interlibrary loans or even access the library’s catalog to see what books were available. Only the library’s two self-checkout machines were still functioning because they are connected to the library’s internal server.

Both the Newport and Driftwood libraries issued advisories to their patrons last week, alerting them of the problems and also asking people to not return books to either library until the problem was resolved.

Driftwood Library’s director, Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney, was getting ready to go out of town to the American Library Association Midwinter 2020 conference in Philadelphia when the malware attack occurred. She went ahead with her travel plans but was kept apprised of the situation by library staff.

“There’s nothing that she (Brodbeck-Kenney) could do from here that she can’t do via email, telephone calls and that kind of thing,” said Driftwood Library Circulation Director Ken Hobson. He said the ordeal was frustrating for library staff, “but we’ve always got stuff behind the scenes that we can work on.” When contacted on Monday, he said, “We’re spending a lot of time right now getting things organized so that when we do come back up, it’s not as huge a task getting caught up as it would be if we didn’t keep things organized.”

The Newport Library, too, was doing what it could to organize as best as possible to make things as easier once the system was restored.  

“We’re starting to put things in order on carts and putting signs on them. Now we’re almost out of carts,” Kimberly said on Monday.

Library patrons were understanding of the situation.

“Very positive,” said Hobson. “People have a great sense of humor about it, are enormously patient and completely understanding. This is something that happens in the modern world.”

The Lincoln County Library District provides services at most of the libraries around the county, but Newport and Driftwood libraries were the only one affected locally by the malware attack.

“Newport and Lincoln City share an integrated library system. The server is up in Tillamook,” said MaryKay Dahlgreen, district librarian with the Lincoln County Library District. “The community college, Siletz, Toledo and Waldport are all on a different system.”

Dahlgreen said, however, that these other libraries will be affected to some degree. “There’s going to be a huge backlog when the system comes back up. We’re the courier for everybody. Essentially what will happen, if books that belong to Newport come back to Toledo, say, then our courier takes them to them. Then the Lincoln City and Tillamook books that come back to Newport, we take those back up to Lincoln City, as well, so we’re kind of a key piece. When these things happen, they happen big.”

Kimberly said the library is looking at changing its current system. “We were re-evaluating it before this whole thing happened, just because it’s kind of weird to have two different systems when you’re in the same county,” she said.

 

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