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Hours Adjusting for Library Learning Commons, MCS Computer Lab

September 02, 2011

Due to the popularity of the Learning Commons in the Porter Henderson Library, the Angelo State University facility will be open continuously each week from 1 p.m. Sundays to 9 p.m. Fridays, beginning Sept. 11, for students, faculty and staff. 

On that date, the Learning Commons on the first floor of the library will replace the Information Technology computer lab in the Mathematics-Computer Science (MCS) Building, Room 111, as the main campus site for computer and Internet access after midnight. New hours for the Learning Commons will be 1 p.m. Sundays through 9 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.

Effective Sept. 11, hours for the MCS computer lab will be noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 7 a.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays; and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays.

The new schedule means the Learning Commons will be accessible to ASU students, faculty and staff 137 of the 168 hours in each week. The increase of 32.5 hours per week in Learning Commons availability follows a 5.5-hour increase, effective with the start of fall classes, in the number of hours the library is open. Except for holidays and breaks, full library circulation and course reserve services are available 109.5 hours a week on the following schedule: 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays; 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays; and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.

Though the library is open to everyone during regular hours, Learning Commons access between 2 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. will be by ID card reader only, thus limiting access to current ASU students, faculty and staff for security reasons.

Dr. Maurice Fortin, executive director of library services, said Information Technology will staff the Technical Assistance Desk every hour the Learning Commons is open, providing laptop checkout and basic technical assistance for patrons. Headphones and VGA cables are also available for checkout. Additionally, library staff members will be on duty at the Circulation Desk during 2-7:30 a.m. hours to provide limited reference assistance, to maintain building security and to manage any emergency situations.

“The Library has received periodic requests for 24/7 access in recent years,” Fortin said. “Making the Learning Commons available overnight is an attempt to meet the need of students for a place where individuals and groups can study, regardless of the hour, and where students can have ongoing access to the technology so vital to their academic needs and success.”

In addition to computers and printers, Fortin said the Learning Commons is equipped to meet a variety of study needs. Amenities include tables and chairs to accommodate group study, booths equipped with flat panel monitors, lighted individual reading pods, flat panel monitors throughout, as well as comfortable sofas and chairs. Snacks and drinks in re-sealable containers are permitted.

The expansion of Learning Commons hours resulted from an assessment conducted this past summer by Fortin and Jeane Irby, director of information technology, reflecting the long-term partnership between Information Technology and the Porter Henderson Library to meet expectations of the ASU community for access to information and technology.

Irby said, “We feel this is a great idea because the students really like the new Learning Commons because of its flexibility and the availability of features not found in a traditional computer lab setting.”

With the expansion of Learning Commons hours, Irby said utilization rates of the MCS lab between midnight and 7 a.m. did not justify two open locations during the early morning hours, especially in light of tight budgets. As a result, IT decided the most efficient use of resources was to shift the student lab technicians from MCS to the Learning Commons and close the MCS computer lab between midnight and 7 a.m.

“As a result,” said Irby, “There is no increased operational cost from IT’s perspective, and the students have access to the same technology services in the Learning Commons during the early mornings as during the traditional hours.”

Fortin and Irby indicated both the library and Information Technology will monitor usage of the Learning Commons and the MCS computer lab to see if additional changes are needed in operational schedules.

Details on the schedules, including holidays, are posted on the library’s website at: Computer lab schedules are available on the IT website at: