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(Feb 27/12) My comment is about the 2nd floor of Mills Library, both the Learning Commons and the computer area outside of that. First, the computers in the Learning Commons are disappearing (presumably because they are broken). Those which remain are hit or miss as well. More computers are needed in the Learning Commons, or more people to repair them when they arent working. Second, the areas are dirty. People do not clean up after themselves, and it is not my responsibility to ensure that they do. I dont know how this can be enforced, so the only other alternative is to have someone continuously cleaning the tables/computers. Third, the computers in the outside area are obsolete and as is evidenced by the number of them that arent working, they need replacing. Finally, all of these issues combined makes me give serious thought as to my value as a student at this university. Working in unsanitary environments with non-functioning equipment is not the way university should be (nor what we invest so heavily in).

Library response:

Thanks for your feedback. You've touched on three issues that are well known to us. Regarding the general cleanliness issue, there is some give and take here. As you know, the library has a very liberal food and drink policy. The upside to that is that students can feel at home and not have to give up their seat or space when hunger or thirst strikes. The downside is that it generates a great deal more trash than one typically sees in a library. Cleaning frequency has been increased to help cope with that, but it's simply not possible to have constant service to clean up behind your peers who choose to leave their messes behind. We'll do all we can, but students need to encourage each other not to make others responsible for their messes.


Regarding the number of computers in the Learning Commons, I've been observing that space recently and assessing what we need in that space. Often, we see the computer pushed out of the way or unplugged so that someone can use their laptop, and there seems to be no clear consensus whether we should have a laptop-optimized library, i.e.- desks with power and space, or offer banks of public computers. Casual observation could lead one to believe that the overwhelming majority of students have a laptop, netbook, or tablet, and the trend seems to be ever more in that direction. Given that, I'm not sure that more computers is the easy answer.


That brings me to the third issue, that being computers out of order or obsolete. You are correct that the PCs in Mills are dated, and we hope to replace them with new computers over the summer. That said, when we do have staff time to check the status of public computers, we often find that "out of order" actually most often means that the computer has been unplugged (typically by someone looking to power their own device; see above) and simply needs plugged back in. Much as with cleaning, we simply don't have the staff capacity to check every computer every hour to see if it's plugged in. The other main reason we see for an out of order sign is a missing keyboard or mouse. In some cases, they have simply been moved to another computer (we recently found three sets attached to one computer for who knows what purpose), but in others they have been stolen. We do our best to remedy these, but the number of mice and keyboards we consume is somewhat staggering. It goes back to my earlier point about responsibility. We don't want to police food and drink nor our computers, forcing users to reserve time, limiting the amount of time one can have, etc. Simply by writing in, you've identified yourself as the kind of student who cares and is responsible, and for that I commend you. We need to find ways to encourage others to join you. 

(Feb 27/12)
Answered by: Dale Askey (Associate University Librarian, Library Learning Technologies)

Categories: Computers/WiFi/Printers, Mills  |  Permalink