Home » Campus, Featured Articles » Library tests new technology
Library tests new technology
Columbia will pilot new collaborative technology in the library in the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building through April 18 as part of an ongoing effort to plan for the new library at 820 S. Michigan Ave.
Media:scape, the new system, is meant to cultivate a collaborative environment between furniture and technology, including twin flatscreens that display information from laptops and other electronic devices by connecting them to the HDMI chords attached to a console embedded in a table. According to Jan Chindlund, dean of
the library, the equipment has been available since April 5 on the third floor in the new wing and the group study room, as well as in the Weisman room on the second floor.
“We hope that the new library will be a place where people can meet across all disciplines and create new work,” Chindlund said. “We think technology of this nature will enable rich conversation to take place [and] enable people to show their work to each other.”
The new installation features a lounge setup, with sofas and a custom table, and allows groups of students to work together in a small space, sharing information from individual devices using the screens, said Ryan Story, a workplace consultant for OEC Business Interiors who is working with Columbia.
The technology has been implemented in other colleges, including Purdue University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
“We looked at how [collaboration] worked in the past that [has taken] place in conference rooms and workstations,” Story said. “We came up with the media:scape to temporarily bring those people together, those spaces together and that sharing of
Media:scape technology is made by Steelcase, a global furniture and technology manufacturing company known for its state-of-the-art office equipment designs, and will be used to promote working together on projects and presentations, Chindlund said. Students who test media:scape equipment will be asked to fill out comment cards to help the college with its research,
The feedback from the cards along with results from a fall 2012 college-wide survey will help nine focus groups with faculty, staff and students plan the new library, Chindlund said.
The college was unable to implement media:scape testing and the furniture sooner because of budget constraints, said Alicia Berg, vice president of Campus Environment.
Story could not confirm the price of the media:scape equipment and installation as of press time.
According to a media:scape specification guide, the base price for a medium D-shaped desk height table with the HDMI console like the one being tested in the library is $16,440.
It should be noted that universities receive 45–55 percent discounts on the equipment, according to a sales representative at a Steelcase distribution dealer in San Diego, who added prices do not include the LED flat screens.
The Steelcase sofas’ base prices range from approximately $1,200 to $3,200, depending on the design, the specification guide said.
In addition to media:scape, the college will also implement a book retrieval system in the new library, Chindlund said. The college will not test this technology before putting it into the new library because it would be too big to install, she said.
Students have found the new media:scape equipment to be helpful so far. Jasmine Maxwell, a junior fashion studies major, said adding the system was a good idea because it provides a place for people to plug in their mobile devices.
“I think it’s also a good for the screens [because] we do a lot of group projects here,” Maxwell said. “I think it will be very effective.”