This summer, IT has been upgrading the lab computers in the library. The Teaching Lab and Reference Lab have both received new machines, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll be focusing on the Reference Lab (or as it is affectionately known to some, “The Amoeba.”)
The bank of computers in the lobby of the library is one of the busiest and most highly-used areas in the building. It is a hub for research, printing, paper writing, and casual use by Rollins students, employees, and members of the community. The lab as it existed until this summer was conceived during the 2012 2nd floor renovations. The setup included large towers mounted underneath the computer tables. These towers were ugly, and they often presented problems of function as well as form – users would bump their knees into the computer, or the mounts would frequently become loose and the tower would crash to the floor with a thunderous boom. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but heavy objects falling near people’s feet made us understandably nervous.
IT approached me last semester and offered a solution – new all-in-one computers that would mount directly to the monitor arms and wouldn’t require anything to be mounted beneath the table. As an experiment, they set up a test machine outside of my office. I casually
monitored usage of the computer, and saw that it was very popular with students, and that there weren’t any technical issues during this trial run. After some discussion between the library and IT, the plan to update the lab was finalized.
A couple of weeks ago, IT was ready to install the new lab machines. In addition to the initial planning and ordering of the new computers, the installation itself was a big effort – computers were unboxed and installed on monitor arms, old machines were disconnected and removed, and the old, problematic mounts were taken out from under the tables. In the end, we have a lab that has faster computers with bigger monitors that both looks great and works better.
The library would like to thank Joe T. and Shaffaq from IT for their dedication and hard work in getting these set up for us (and for letting me play with power tools!). If you’re on campus, feel free to take the new lab for a test drive and let us know what you think.