Hunter Computer Lab Gets a Facelift

As I entered Hunter Library, smiled at the familiar faces behind the circulation desk, and turned the corner in front of the elevator on my way to Hunter Lab, I was shocked by what I saw. After being away for the summer, I was looking forward to getting in a little quality time with the high-speed internet at Hunter Lab. But the Hunter Lab I had known for the last three years was gone, replaced with a sleek, new assembly of computers and furniture. Even the entrance was different now – an inviting opening in the corner of the cubicle-style walls instead of the twisting tunnel I used to trudge down almost every day. The remodeling project at Hunter Lab started simply enough. At first, the plan was to incorporate the STAC into the lab. The STAC, or the Student Technology Assistance Center, is the place students like me go to when they have no idea whatsoever how to work a program or piece of hardware they need to understand for a class. With the help of the STAC, I’ve learned a lot about making web pages and working with PowerPoint, two skills that will serve me well later in life. By incorporating the STAC into Hunter Lab, this same level of assistance will be available to students much more conveniently and for more of the week. The next natural step was to redo many of the signs around the library in connection with moving the STAC. After all, moving the center doesn’t do any good if no one knows where it’s been moved. Tom Frazier was the natural person to contact, and with his help, not only were the signs redone, they were “visually enhanced” to improve the look of the lab. Of course, it’s hard to improve the signs and leave the rest of the lab as is. Candice Roberts was contacted about getting some input from students about redesigning the space. She incorporated the request into one of her interior design classes by making the final project for the class a re-design of Hunter Lab. Many of the finals were too ambitious for the budget of the lab, but several themes emerged from the collaboration-among them, the change in the lab’s entrance to make it more open and inviting. At the same time, the lab was going through its usual computer upgrades. Last spring the Macintoshes were replaced with newer models, and over the summer the PC’s followed suit. Four new media computers were added, as well as two Macs and two PC’s, with the latest software for every kind of media editing one can imagine. And as part of the campus-wide conversion to the new student ID numbers, the login was redesigned to be both more secure and more reliable. The overall effect is astonishing. It’s like someone wiped the slate clean and rebuilt Hunter Lab from the ground up. As I walked in, I noted the new computers and rearranged space. Two sets of laptop tables are available now, both for those who bring their own laptops and for those who check them out from the circulation desk. In fact, because the laptop checkout program was such a success last year, the number of available laptops has been doubled, from twenty-four to forty-eight. Coupled with the wireless access throughout the building, one can now literally work anywhere in the library that suits him or her and only come to the computer lab to print out the final project or get a little assistance with a complicated program. While the remodeling done to date is impressive by itself, it’s not over yet. Hunter Lab is hoping to get more funding in the near future to make the lab even more friendly and less “institutional.” After all, Hunter Lab is the most used open-access computer lab on campus, well ahead of Forsyth and Moore. Depending on how much money the lab can get, everything from plants and artwork to better, more ergonomic chairs are in the works. Expect to see more changes to Hunter Lab as the funds become available. Consider this on-going face lift “your student fees at work.” I, for one, am happy to see my money being so well spent.