Library contains mysteries unknown to students

By William Watson
Staff Writer

The University of West Florida Library is accessed by students daily. However, the building contains secrets that not everyone knows about. Whether students confuse information or are uninformed about the library is the real mystery.

Students are allowed to use books on reserve, as opposed to having to buy every book required for their classes. “The textbooks on reserve, they have all 1000-4000 level books that students can check out for two hours at a time,” said Britt McGowan, associate librarian.

Not only can physical books be used but so can online content. McGowan said, “On the University of West Florida University Archives and West Florida History Center page, you can search the online collections. Go to ‘Browse Digital Content,’ and it’s a little clunky to look at, but not everything has been digitized.”

Many students also might not know they can check out equipment from the library as well, such as still cameras, video cameras, calculators, laptops and even Smartboards. The loan period is anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks, depending on the equipment. Find the complete list on the website here.

“Most of our equipment, they just go to the circulation desk and check out with their Nautilus Card,” McGowan said regarding checking out technology.

Individual study carrels are located on the higher floors of the library for students to use. “Undergrad students can check out a key for them for six hours at a time,” McGowan said. “Graduate students can check out on-site to hold it one for a semester.”

Lora Watson, sophomore criminal justice major, said the carrels are useful for students. “Students can rent them to study or sleep, or take a nap between classes,” she said.

As for massage chairs in the library, it appears that those only appear during certain events. McGowan said, “Sometimes when we have dogs for Paws and Play, we bring in massage chairs for the students.”

The Skylab, on the fifth floor, is another untapped resource.

John Barksdale, Skylab technology manager, said, “The library is supposed to be a learning experience. We’ve got the Maker Space here in the fifth floor. The Maker Space teaches you how to run it, and it differs from other places on campus.

“3D Printing is hands-on, and we teach you how to make the models,” Barksdale said. “In here, anybody can use it. It’s really popular and really cool for people who want to learn 3D printing.”

As a result, some students might tackle 3D printing without realizing it requires a learning process. “Some students, they have their phones, and they want to make a case for it. However, they don’t necessarily want to learn how to use the 3D printer,” Barksdale said. “It’s not good if they don’t want to do it.”

3D printing requires a fee for the cost of materials. The weight of the model also affects the fee. However, once these materials are purchased, the students can “go back there and play all day,” Barksdale said.

There are plans to expand the Skylab in the future.

“Right now, we’re building a new Maker Space,” said Barksdale. “It has new printers and it has old ones. It’s going to be really cool.”

Albert Einstein’s signature in his archived book. (Photo by William Watson) A shot of some collected items from the past of the University.  (Photo by William Watson) A shot of the front door of the Basement’s main room. (Photo by William Watson) A shot of the Basement’s main room area. (Photo by William Watson) A shot of the Basement’s main room area (Photo by William Watson) Helen Keller’s signature in her archived journal. (Photo by William Watson)  picture of John Barksdale posing with his assistant near a 3D Printer. (Photo by William Watson)
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picture of John Barksdale posing with his assistant near a 3D Printer. (Photo by William Watson)

The Office of the Dean of Libraries has a Technology Plan online, if you are curious as to what they have planned.

The basement houses the  University Archives and the area requires permission to enter.

Dean DeBolt, University Archivist, is in charge of sorting and appropriating the archives. “We receive ours books through donations. People collect them and bring the books to us. If not, then we acquire it ourselves.

“Outside of the book collection, we have photograph collections that will be about the area,” DeBolt said. “We have pictures and postcards. All kinds of materials. However, some of the older ones won’t be pictures. They’ll be negatives and they used glass.”

The archives are not limited to physical items; digital restoration exists, and a scanner is used to transfer older files into a hard drive.

“The fun one is the digital content,” said DeBolt. “We store them forever, and we make them available.” The availability for these older documents, or even recent documents, can be found on the library’s site. “We also have historical pictures on here. For example, [when] Hurricane Ivan came to the campus.”

Unfortunately, not many students actually know about this. DeBolt uses the archives website to try and “make our collection known.”

An upcoming mystery would have to be the FitDesk bikes. These bikes are said to be helpful for exercising while studying. This will be especially beneficial for students who might be jittery and need movement in order to focus while doing their studies.

There is no date yet for the FitDesks to be installed. “We’re going to have two of these on the second floor,” said McGowan. As for when, the mystery remains to be seen.

Another thing students might not know is that the library has a classroom. Room 123 on the first floor is a classroom that students can use. However, it might be reserved, so students wishing to use this classroom will need to check on its availability.

The library also hosts various events, such as “Premiere Video Editing for Beginners” or “Operating 3D Printer” classes, for starters. There is a lot more the library offers; check out the website for all the hidden mysteries you’ve been missing.

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