Students Express Concerns about Huntington Library Computer Availability, Policies

By Valerie Polite

The library, a potential home to prospective 4.0 GPA students has recently been overrun by students looking to watch YouTube, check their Facebook, or just hang out with friends in-between classes. As the spring 2012 semester enters full-swing the question arises; should there be limitations regarding library usage?

The Huntington library provides resources for students to jam in a study session between schedules, or squeeze out that last minute assignment…if you can find a seat.  Recently, as the student population of the Ammerman campus increases it seems as if these necessary resources are becoming less and less available to those that need them.

“I have a break from 11 AM to 2 PM on Mondays and Wednesdays and literally have to run to the library to maybe get a computer”, Lisa Bilella, a sophomore English major, said.  “There aren’t enough computers and the few that are available are usually being used for non-academic purposes like YouTube and Facebook.  It’s not fair to those who really need the computers for schoolwork.”

The high capacity of students, especially during common hours of 11:30 AM-2:00PM, highly exceeds that of the quantity of available computers.  The Ammerman campus enrolls approximately 14,000 students per semester however, in total; the Huntington Library offers a miniscule number of 160 computers with an additional 10 laptops available for circulation.  This includes the Academic Computing Lab (ACC), reference area, Mac Lab, and three extra educational classrooms.

James Salisbury, a Psychology major on campus, was appalled when he learned about the vast number of students versus the insufficient number of computers.  “The Library needs more computers.  It’s as simple as that”, James said.  “It’s absurd that the library expects only 160 students out of 14,000 to be interested in getting a jump-start on their assignments.”

The college vision statement states that it “commits to maintaining high educational standards, to fostering and inspiring student success, and to creating diverse opportunities for life-long learning.  By attracting strong leadership and distinguished faculty to a college of excellence, we create an enriched learning environment that empowers students to transform their lives.”  The lack of library resources is inhibiting inspired students from achieving success, therefore contradicting the college vision statement.  When asked if the library had any future plans of adding new computers, Campus Head Librarian and Library Director, Susan Lieberthal, confirms that the school has no intention of doing so.

“We have not increased the number of computers; instead we try to get newer replacements with the money we have, rather than extra computers”, Lieberthal said.

However, the issue still remains that more and more students are being denied computer access. Numerous students say they believe nonacademic websites, such as YouTube, Facebook and twitter should be blocked on the school computers.

“Maybe the number of computers would be sufficient if the majority of the people on them weren’t using them to check Facebook or watch YouTube”, an aggravated Math and Statistic major, Angela Horstman said.  “More than half of the student population own smartphones.  If your Facebook is so important that you need to know what’s going on every couple minutes, download the app and you can comment on as many statuses as you like.  Why do you need a computer to do that?”

Although this appears to be a logical solution, Lieberthal disapproves of blocking nonacademic sites.  She believes “it could interfere with students’ academic freedom.”

“During busy times we have our professional assistants going around and asking for volunteers to give up computers for those who are waiting to do school work”, Lieberthal said.  “We do not patrol the reference computers but in the ACC we have a professional assistant on duty at all times.  We do not try to be policemen, but we will ask for volunteers to get up and give someone a spot if it is very busy.”

According to a large majority of students there’s a crucial problem with this system.  The policies are not enforced and “volunteers” are few and hard to come by.

“During common hour they make an announcement asking students not working on academic related material to leave, but they never do.  It becomes more of a suggestion than anything else and it’s seen as optional”, said Horstman.

Students are however provided with a suggestion box, located across from the circulation desk, where they are encouraged to leave feedback and have their voice heard.

“We have addressed several issues through the suggestion box”, said Lieberthal.  “Facebook comes up a lot but a little mini survey we put next to the box showed a split between those who wanted it and those who wanted it blocked.”

The suggestion box is emptied out and addressed once or twice a month.  Issues that come up often are posted on the board with an attached response explaining how the staff has or will attempt a solution.  “Believe it or not we have received many compliments through our suggestion box”, said Lieberthal.

Despite that, numerous students remain unhappy with library policies and the lack of computer lab restrictions.

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