UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

Laptop area created in UHCL library

Jeffry Tupa

The Signal Staff

The Neumann Library at the University of Houston-Clear Lake created a new study area to accommodate laptop users. The previous study area was presenting a safety hazard for students because of laptop cords stretching across the floor.

“The idea behind remodeling that area was to make it more laptop friendly,” said Ashlynn Wicke, a reference and instruction librarian. “We added plugs so people can plug in their laptops and not stretch cords and trip people in different areas. We are still in the process of getting all the appropriate outlets in place. It’s not completely finished.”

The library made space for the new laptop area by reorganizing and relocating old index books. It also added new styles of chairs and furniture in the back area to accommodate laptop users and other people who just want to gather together for a group study.

“These print indexes, they have been placed along the wall and many of them have been replaced by electronically indexes. We have over a 100,000 e-books in our catalog, and we’re in the process of counting them right now,” said Karen Wielhorsky, the executive director of the Neumann Library at UHCL. “We worked very hard to relocate the indexes and get rid of the index’s tables. The old stuff goes to state surplus.”

Some of the partitions in the public computer area were removed to open up visibility in the library.

“You see how all of these are clustered?” Wielhorsky said. “People can see each other and you can see all the way out the front door of the library. It gives a sense of openness, teamwork, whereas before, everybody was sitting isolated in their little partition cubicle.”

A committee of people from different areas of the library with different expertise was formed to design the new floor plan and choose new furniture.

“It was a joint effort between multiple groups within the library that came up with what we currently see out there today,” Wicke said.

Library personel tested several different chairs on students last fall and bought the chairs students voted as best.

“It did not take away from the books we purchase or the databases that we provide access to,” Wielhorsky said. “We did our best; I had a committee working to identify the type of furniture we should get to make the laptops easier to use in the library and they did it on a shoes string budget. They were able to find the value items.

“It really was the librarians who realized that something needed to be done and suggested the improvements. The librarians are on top of this, we are very aware of changing technology needs and we are looking for ways to stay relevant for our students.”

Other improvements the library has added include such options as: e-books; a federated search tool, which is a one-search option to browse multiple databases; films on demand, which provides streaming videos online with public performance rights included; IM reference, which allows students to chat directly with a reference librarian; and social networking pages on their Web site such as Facebook and Twitter.

To find out more information about the library’s latest improvements, attend the Library Open House on Sept. 29 from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Neumann Library.