Technology Commons to offer new services
Library and IT continue collaboration as departments discuss student needs. | Caleb Raney/THE CHIMES
New services and cuts
The Tech Commons replaced Media Services in January as a collaborative effort between the library and IT to streamline services between departments and meet student demand for new technological functions. It currently offers a combination of tech support and equipment lending, but by fall 2017, it will offer new services such as quick charging stations and no longer offer services which students rarely utilize, such as laptop rentals. According to dean of the library Gregg Geary, the Tech Commons formed out of a series of conversations between departments.
“We had big powwows trying to figure out who does what and we found all of these overlapping things and redundancies and gaps,” Geary said. “We had staffing that changed and so it was a good time to reevaluate our operations in the library and then look at partnerships to create a new environment.”
Though the Tech Commons currently resides in the former Media Services facility, IT expects the Tech Commons will relocate to the present site of the Writing Center by the end of June. The Writing Center will move a short distance toward the windows across from the library entrance. According to senior director of Information Technology Steve Earle, the presence of IT in the library will increase its accessibility.
“We do think we’ll get a lot more student walk-in, because they’ll be right there having the problem and go, ‘Oh, I’ll just walk up,’” Earle said.
The needs of students will determine what services the Tech Commons will continue to offer. Frequently rented equipment — such as audio and video kits — will stay in circulation, while others, such as laptops, will be discontinued until demand can be evaluated.
“So we’re really saying ‘let’s narrow it down’ and saying we do these things. This is what students have said they’ve needed based on circulation — what they’re using now. So let’s start at this baseline and start measuring where the demand is,” Earle said. “And if we’ve cut too much, we’ll add equipment in, and if we’ve not cut enough, then we’ll … move it on out.”
During the past several months, IT and the library also met with various departments and faculty to discuss student demand for new technology-based services the Tech Commons could offer. The services the Tech Commons offer must appeal to a range to students, according to Geary.
“We look at the cost relative to the use,” Geary said. “And we want to know exactly what the learning outcome is, and what the value is, and the buy-in, because … the library is not interested in investing in something that has a very insular use for one department and so there needs to be a demand and fairly high use.”
Director of technical support Anthony Valentino emphasizes the ultimate goal of the Tech Commons includes supporting students.
“We’re here to help … whether it be finding a book or finding out how to use an app,” Valentino said.