Ask A Librarian

Library computers always busy at West Virginia University

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 1st, 2007

The Daily Athenaeum, February 28, 2007
Angela Moscaritolo Staff Writer

Mike Spinello, a sophomore political science major, entered the downtown library around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in hopes of quickly printing out a paper before class. He slowly walked around the main level looking to his left and right. No luck. Then he circled the reference desk, still no luck. After a few minutes, Spinello hit the jackpot — a computer opened up. 

computer photo

Many students aren’t as lucky.

Finding a computer downtown may pose many challenges, but library staff members contend that they are doing everything they can to accommodate students, according to Dennis Newborn, head of library systems.

Craig McDonald, a senior communication studies major, uses the downtown library computers every day. He said he has waited up to 20 or 30 minutes for a computer on some occasions.

The Downtown Library Complex has 150 public computers spread throughout each level. There are also 30 laptop computers that students can rent from the lower level. After 5:00 p.m. there are 30 additional computers open in a classroom on the lower level. Still, finding a computer can be very difficult.

”At peak times, no matter how many PCs we have in the library, they would all fill up,” said Newborn.

Newborn said that from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., almost every machine in the building will be filled, and computers are in even higher demand during midterm and finals weeks.

About 2,500 to 3,000 people enter the downtown library each day on average, according to Frances O’Brien, dean of libraries. Many of those people are using the library for their computing needs. There are 2,000 logins and logoffs for library computers each day on average, Newborn said.

Library staff at the reference desk do hear people complain about having to wait for computers, but there haven’t been an overwhelming number of complaints, O’Brien said.

”Can I guarantee that every time you walk in, will you be able to get a computer? No, I can’t,” O’Brien said.

There are ways for students to combat this problem, Newborn said.

There are over 1,000 docks available throughout the library for students to plug in their personal laptops. Students with laptops are able to access the Internet for free at the library by plugging their computers into these docks. Those with wireless Internet cards will be able to pick up a wireless feed. Library staff said that more and more students have been bringing their own laptops.

Next door to the downtown library is the White Hall computing lab, which houses another additional 84 computers, Newborn said. But many students like to use the library because of the atmosphere, he said.

Last year, the library purchased 10 laptops to bring the number up to 30 to try to combat this problem. If additional computers are added to the library in the future, they will probably be laptops, Newborn said. They also created a computer system available at the reference desk, where librarians can see if any of the computers is open, and where it is located. This program isn’t always very effective, because by the time the student makes it to the open computer, it may have already been taken, O’Brien said.

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