GVSU initiates “Hack Your Campus” and new technologies

GVL/Nickolas Peters

GVL/Nickolas Peters

Drew Howard

The Grand Valley State University Mary Idema Pew Library is looking for feedback from students regarding the initiative “Hack Your Campus,” a competition where students can pitch ideas to improve different aspects of the university. The winning proposal will receive a grand prize of $1,000.

Idea suggestions for Hack Your Campus, which was organized by both students and faculty at the GVSU University Libraries and Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, opened on Jan. 5 and are open until Feb. 20. They will decide the winner on March 20.

In the meantime, library staff is looking ahead at possible new technologies and improvements to incorporate in the building.

Carlos Rodriguez, associate dean of technology and information resources, said all the computers in the library are planned to be replaced within the next couple of years.

“IT looks at replenishing the computers every four years, so within two years we will probably be looking at a complete refresh of all the computers in the library,” Rodriguez said. “We are looking at possibly adding dual displays on the computers as well.”

There are also prospects of adding new software onto the computers, Rodriguez said.

“The library could become the primary central hub for computing on campus where all the software could potentially be loaded on,” Rodriguez said. “There is interest from students who are in other disciplines to have some specific software to be downloaded on the computers.”

Library staff is also looking at ways to incorporate new, touchscreen digital displays.

“Right now, the largest one we have is about 70 inches,” Rodriguez said. “We are looking to have ones that are over 100 inches, maybe even 150 or 200 inches.”

These displays could be so large that multiple people will be able to interact with each other at once, Rodriguez said.

“They would take up a whole wall, like a video wall,” Rodriguez said. “We’d like to have it in the library, but right now we’re exploring where else it could go on campus.”

While these ideas are a little further out, the library is still looking at things to improve in the short-term.

“Something else we are looking at is increasing the type of equipment that can be checked out at the library,” Rodriguez said. “Other than iPads and laptops, students could possibly check out other equipment like digital cameras as well as Mac laptops if there is a need for that.”

Additionally, there are plans to revisit printing operations as well as room reservations to see if there are any additional enhancements that could be made.

“We’ve gotten feedback on how those have been working, and we’ll be working with IT to see how we can improve interface and functionality,” Rodriguez said. “It’s very important for us to hear from students using these services and systems to let us know how it’s working so we can continue to improve.”

Patrick Roth, head of systems and technology at University Libraries, emphasized the importance of student feedback to the library staff.

“More and more, the role of libraries is to introduce technology for people to use,” Roth said. “We try to be as cutting edge as we can and introduce and improve things as quickly as possible. Feedback from students helps us with what we should be doing.”

Surveys will be sent out in mid-March asking students and faculty about their thoughts on the library.

“This survey is also very valuable to us because we learn about how the campus perceives the library,” Rodriguez said. “We take it very seriously, especially if there are common themes in the feedback.”

For more information on how to get involved with Hack Your Campus, go to www.gvsu.edu/hackyourcampus.