Winstein Hungbui
Mercury Staff

Interactive screens included to allow students to conduct video conferences, share notes

The Eugene McDermott Library installed two new smartboards
on the second and third floors earlier this semester, turning old whiteboards
into interactive displays that offer more functionality to students and
faculty.

Gloria Jean Vik, associate library director for systems,
said the new rooms feature a 70-inch television monitor which can detect audio
and video. As a result, compatible devices, which range from laptops to tablets
and phones, all have increased utility. This means a student connected to the
room on their phone can have the same functions and acquire the same
information as a student on their laptop.

“The room on the second floor is equipped with a large TV
monitor that has cameras around the frame,” Vik said. “There is an electronic
whiteboard that can send notes to your device. You can put all your ideas on
the whiteboard, save them as a file, and send them as an email or put them on
your USB drive.”

The new interactive boards help when a group of students
utilizing study rooms run out of space on the traditional whiteboards, leading
to them writing on the walls and costing the library time and money to repaint
the rooms.

“We have whiteboards in every room and we check out markers.
Somehow, the board is not big enough, so students keep writing and write on the
walls,” Vik said. “We’re having to repaint these rooms every semester.”

Vik said regular study rooms are quickly becoming obsolete,
and these new rooms open up more opportunities for networking.

“We do have students that use them for job interviews,” she
said. “Or, say someone on your team is sick and they are missing one of the
meetings, they could Skype in and they could be involved.”

Healthcare studies junior Byron Sula primarily utilizes the
rooms with his classmates for group projects and assignments. He said the study
rooms help him connect to classmates who can’t be on campus or are sick that
day.

“We can share our ideas remotely without having to actually
be there. It’s like Skype but with a whiteboard,” he said. “I also use it with
my study group because it’s easier when I can write formulas on the board, and
everyone can just download what I wrote.”

As the rooms are on a reserve-only basis, they have to be
booked at least one day in advance. Sula said demand for the rooms is high
during weekdays and class times. This could affect students who need to contact
a classmate or employer.

“The rooms are always taken from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It would
be better if the library could put the same technology into more study rooms,”
Sula said. “Besides weekends, you have to reserve it early if you want a spot.”

Vik said there are plans to implement the new technology
into all 18 study rooms in the library.

“Things change constantly, as far as technology is
concerned. We’re hoping students make the most of these rooms,” Vik said. “If
they see something that would give them a better experience, we would like to
know about it.”