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Understanding Your Library’s IP Address

A library's IP address is a series of numbers that identifies your computer network. Two examples are  (ipv4) 216.58.218.238 and (ipv6) 2600:1700:8f71:5b60:908a:db0a:9a50:fec5.

IPv4 vs. IPv6

IPv6 has recently started to show up more and more, especially in more populated areas. One problem with IPv4 is that it is only 32 bits in size so there is an upper limit of 2^32 unique IP addresses (approximately 4.3 billion) and a significant number have already been assigned. Not all of them are in use, but the day is approaching that they will all be assigned. Enter IPv6. IPv6 is a 128 bit address and can support 2^128 unique addresses (approximately 340 undecillion.) IPv6 also uses a hexadecimal numbering scheme where each digit can have 16 different values instead of the normal 10 values in the decimal system used in IPv4. Which type of IP you have doesn’t matter.

Static IP vs. Dynamic IP
Most smaller networks have a dynamic IP address. This means that the address is temporarily assigned by the internet provider from the pool of addresses that the provider owns. This also means that the address can change with little warning. A static IP address means that the library's internet provider has assigned them a permanent address from their pool, and it should never change. Most providers charge extra for this service, however, it does provide stability to the library and is preferable if the library can afford it.
 
What This Means for PrairieCat Libraries
PrairieCat libraries’ IP addresses are used for Encore item sorting, self-check terminals, PC-Res software and other third-party services that are integrated with Sierra. In all of these cases, the IP addresses are added to a series of tables. This associates that address to the library and allows requests from that library's network access to our network. With a static address, the library only needs to be added to the tables once. With a dynamic address, any time the IP address changes (even a switch from IPv4 to IPv6) the library would need to be re-added to the tables.

With the upcoming PrairieCat move to a hosted server, we STRONGLY recommend that libraries look at getting a static IP from their providers. Innovative will update the network tables as needed but there could be up to a three day turnaround to do so.

For more info about static vs. dynamic IP addresses check out this article.

For more info about IPv4 vs. IPv6 here is a useful link.

To easily find your library's IP address you can either type “What is my IP” into a google search box or check here.