New center brings research tools together

The new facility provides research programs, assistance and software.

by Anna Weggel

Students now have the ability to start and finish a research project in one sitting at the University’s new Information Commons in Wilson Library.

The new $250,000 facility is a resource center that provides research programs, assistance and software to students in one location.

Library staff held the Information Commons grand opening Thursday, allowing students to try out the computers, meet the staff and become familiar with the new facility.

In the Information Commons, students can receive help designing Web pages, writing papers, editing videos and photos, designing fliers or conducting research.

The facility includes 33 new PCs, three iMacs, DVD and CD burners, flash memory card readers, color and black-and-white printing, scanners and updated software for all of the computers.

Jerilyn Veldof, director of undergraduate initiatives, said her department started researching possible ideas for students in the library, approximately a year and a half ago.

Veldof said she held focus groups and sent out surveys to learn what challenges undergraduate students face and how her department could create a comfortable space for them.

Of the surveyed students, more than 80 percent favored a facility like the Information Commons, she said.

“Students wanted a campus destination,” Veldof said. “We want people to collect here.”

Students immediately made use of the space Thursday, using computers and talking with staff members.

The Board of Regents approved funding for the project and it began planning it last spring.

“It’s been a really big empty space for the last few months,” Veldof said.

Undergraduate initiatives librarian Caroline Crouse said new technology, online resources and a reference desk at the facility will help students get work done more efficiently.

Crouse said that before the Information Commons was available, students used to have to go to the library, a computer lab, back to the library and then to the writing center in Lind Hall.

“People can just come here for help,” she said. “It takes out the middle man.”

College of Liberal Arts student Megan Oleson used the Information Commons on Tuesday to work on research for two papers.

“I’m (at the library) every single day,” she said.

Oleson said there is so much demand to use computers at Wilson Library, that it’s usually a fight.

Before the Information Commons, Oleson said, she had to do all of her researching at home or at work and then come to the library to get the books.

“It would have added a lot of time – now I get to stay on campus,” she said.

Oleson said she thinks it is helpful to have all of the resources in one room and the staff is very helpful.