The Library and CIS are pleased to announce that a computer cluster has been established on the mezzanine of the Sciences Library, providing better access to computers in proximity to the Library resources.
In 1990, Brown's Undergraduate Council of Students made several requests for library computing clusters. At the time, Vice President of CIS, Brian Hawkins, stated that "a publicly accessible personal computer facility in one of the University Libraries would encourage the scholarly use of information technology by the broad range of Brown community...." It was agreed that the most efficient means to do this would be to transfer a CIS cluster to the Library.
The major hurdle was funding. So it was not until this year that the opportunity again presented itself to relocate a computer cluster. CIS had received pressure to create a space in the Graduate Center for a Multi-Media Lab, which would support work in various humanities courses. Since the Grad Cluster was not as popular as some others on campus, some machines came to the Pembroke cluster and the rest to the Sciences.
The Sciences cluster has high-end computing equipment including: a color scanner, a HP4SI printer, and Syquest drives, as well as Power Macs and IBM 486s, with access to all of the software on the public server. In addition, the cluster is staffed by CIS student consultants during most of the Library hours.
Usage has been high enough to create waiting periods, so a sign-up mechanism was established. There was concern about a loss of seating and "noisy study" space, where groups could work. Some seats were moved to level A, so no individual places were lost. For groups, there are conference rooms that can be reserved by calling x2405. These rooms on floors 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10, if not reserved, are left unlocked for anyone to use.
In light of the cluster's popularity, there are plans to replace the setup on the fourth floor of the Rockefeller. Hopefully, a new, larger cluster can be placed near the Reference and Information Center, in keeping with the goal of putting computer access and other resources in proximity.