HECKER CENTER FOR LIBRARY TECHNOLOGY

The Brown University Library is very pleased to announce the opening of the Hecker Center for Library Technology. The space, dedicated on October 31, is the result of a donation from Mr. Mark Hecker '68 and his wife made in honor of his parents at the end of the "Campaign for the Rising Generation" in June 1996.

As many research libraries in this time of transition, the Brown University Library is trying whenever possible to make the best effort it can to accommodate all of its users' needs, preserve its collections, and take opportunities to transform the Library's current physical space for these needs. Knowing that the "virtual library" will not be here in the near future, the integration of new and old formats is even more important than ever. To that end, the Library created the new Hecker Center in the Rockefeller Library. This facility (on the north side of Level 1) brings together several functions whose improvement has been a long standing library priority. An electronic training room is located within the Center so that classes can be taught by librarians in close proximity to library materials and resources. Also, a modern microform service and storage area brings collections together, previously dispersed in several places in the Library, where staff to serve them are located.

In the Fall of 1996, a team was appointed by the University Librarian to design and implement the new area. Members included Chair, Florence Doksansky (Associate University Librarian for Public Services and Collection Development), Bonnie Buzzell (Head of Circulation), Anne Cerstvik Nolan (Assistant Head of Reference), Howard Pasternack (Library Systems/Planning Officer), Pamela Pollard (Head of Media Services), Barbara Schulz (Business Manager), and Steven E. Thompson (Head of Serials/Microforms). Michael Benjamin from Plant Operations served as the Project Manager; the architect was Timothy Marsters from Marsters Sargent Rivers Architects Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts.

Until the Hecker Center was completed, most of the Library's valuable collection of microfilms was housed in "shoe boxes" on the second floor, while the microfiche holdings were in cabinets in two different places on the first. The remainder, newspapers on microfilm, was located on Level 1 in the Periodical Reading Room, where it will remain. In 1984, the Library had recognized it as a priority to establish a microform area to both serve and preserve this collection. However, funds were not forthcoming until now. In designing this area, library staff chose a compact shelving system, Gemtrac, that saves significant space, as well as houses the microforms in preservation quality cabinets. The collection from the second floor which took up 625 square feet will now occupy only 279 square feet, a savings of over 55%. Plus, shelf space on Level 2 has been freed up for other collections. The consolidation will be completed by the start of second semester.

One of the most exciting features of the Hecker Center is the state-of-the-art training facility, which has high-end instruction equipment and ten workstations capable of accommodating up to twenty people at a time. We are told that this is one of a very few installations in the country with this combination of instructional technology. This room is essential for handling library user instruction, workshops, demonstrations, and staff training. These offerings previously had to be held outside the Library, mostly in CIT, where scheduling and its distance from the Library were problems. Other sessions were held around single workstations in the Reference area, where clusters of users were poorly served, and, on occasion, the sessions disturbed others. We will now be able to hold popular classes on such resources as Lexis/Nexis, Josiah, Internet searching, and many more, next to the actual library resources and staff that serve them. The training room is sound proofed to allow for multimedia presentations without disturbing other library patrons.

The technical features of the room include a control system, "Classnet", which allows an instructor to control each student's workstation from the podium. From a touch sensitive remote control panel, information displayed on the instructor's PC monitor can be sent to all of the students' monitors; any individual student's monitor can be viewed by the instructor; and the screen of any of the monitors within the room can be displayed to the entire class. The touch panel also provides control for all of the audiovisual equipment within the room and the lights.

An LCD projection system, which provides a display of video and computer sources onto a large screen, is located at the front of the room. This system is compatible with all video sources and formats, and has high-end computer resolution. The setup includes a dedicated PC, located at the podium, but also allows an instructor to bring in and connect his own PC compatible computer or MAC/Powerbook. A document camera at the podium allows transparencies, opaques, slides, and three dimensional objects to be displayed through the video data projector, while a dedicated VCR provides playback of VHS and SVHS videotapes. The sound system can broadcast, via ceiling mounted speakers, stereo program and voice reinforcement audio, and there is a wireless microphone to allow a presenter to move about the room. There are two retractable electric screens and two white boards, so that it is possible for the instructor to use multiple learning tools at the same time.

A third function planned for the space is an electronic reading area, where users will be able to view non-reference and full-text sources in a variety of formats in a quieter, less hectic atmosphere than the Reference room. While this portion of the space has not been fully developed, there are work tables available for study purposes that are wired to accommodate laptop computers and allow Internet access. As the number of available full-text resources proliferates, this function will become increasingly important to library users.

Once again, the Library is most grateful to the Heckers for their generous gift, which allows us to fulfill these important goals. Library staff have familiarized themselves with the system, and the training room itself has been available for scheduled library instruction sessions since the beginning of November. If you wish to schedule library instruction for a class, which must be given by a librarian, or have any questions about the training room, please contact Anne Nolan in Reference at x3577; questions about the microform area may be directed to Steve E. Thompson in Serials at x2976.

--Florence K. Doksansky

[ Library Home Page | Library Publications | Back to Bibliofile 29]