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Renovations bring top-notch technology to the library

Sasha Burnett and Sasha Burnett

The Van Pelt and Opie library is well equipped with technology that students at Michigan Tech need for their studies. Although some of the technology has been available to students for several years now, the library took on major revamps over the summer to provide students with even more top of the line technology.

The laptop bar, just one of many new technologies offered by the library. Photo by Max Curtis

Starting at the basement, students have access to multiple all-in-one computers and power sources. In addition to the computers, the garden level is equipped with a coin operated photocopier and a planetary overhead scanner that allows students to save scanned files to a thumb drive or forward them to an email account.

Although there is currently no cell phone reception on this level of the library, Library Director Ellen Marks said that the technology necessary to provide students with reception will be coming soon.

The main floor of the library has already been equipped with all-in-one computers, a printer and a poster printer, as many new additions were made during the summer. New to the main floor of the library are a laptop bar, more display screens and a dual login system on each computer.

“One of the neat things about the new screens is that students can send files in to advertise events. We hope that this will increase student awareness because it seems like in the Houghton and Hancock area people only find out information from fliers,” Marks said.

Another important, and possibly hidden, feature of the new screens is that many students can plug-in while working on a project with a group so that they can all see the information at the same time.

Information Technologies (IT) is currently working on a program to display open computers with their location on the new vertical screen when students walk into the library. According to Marks, each computer has a name and a color is part of the name, making the organization straightforward. This will allow students to spend less time wandering to find an open computer, and more time studying.

“One thing that people miss about the open labs is that everybody there was from your same major. With the coloring system, students can text their colleagues and say I am in the yellow zone,” Marks said.

The library and IT services desk may not be new to the library, but there are some new devices that can be utilized from the desk. Students can “rent” out laptops, cameras, calculators, video cameras, projector, headphones or even iPhone 5 chargers. All of these devices can be checked out free of charge.

Although many changes have already been made to the main floor of the library, there are more to come. According to Marks, the library will be open 24 hours a day starting in no longer than three weeks, allowing students to use the technology at their own convenience. There will also be a second laptop bar installed as well as a possible second printer.

“The Library and IT service center will be staffed overnight to provide basic assistance on anything in the library,” Marks said.

On the second floor of the library there are a number of high performance and all-in-one computers. The high performance computers are equipped with 400 plus software packages including programs that support engineering learning. On this floor there is also a digital studio. The studio consists of three Macs that have software such as Adobe Creative Suite. More are on the way.

“We hope to continue to develop this with software that is too expensive for students to own themselves,” Marks said.

The new large and wide scanner allows students to scan maps and blueprints in color with easy to use touch screen navigation. “The brand new large and wide scanner is top of the line technology. It was a generous donation by the friends of the Van Pelt library,” Marks said.

Each floor of the library contributes to different student preferences and the third floor is reserved for those who need no distractions while studying. “The most important job of the library is to give students choice because everyone has different learning styles and preferences,” Marks said.

Tiffany Moore, a third year student, says she is enjoying the new upgrade. “I really like the extra computers and that we have access to log in through our accounts now,” said Moore.

Although the library has already experienced some dramatic changes in purpose, appearance and technology, there is still more change to come. “Within the next year, most of the upgrades will be done. However, the process to make sure that we have state of the art technology is never complete,” Marks said.

About Sasha Burnett and Sasha Burnett

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