Five collaboration stations are now available for use by the NIU community on the first floor of Founders Memorial Library. Each is made up of a large table, six chairs and a 40” monitor equipped with HDMI, VGA and DisplayPort to connect it to laptop computers or mobile devices. Users connecting a device to the monitor may immediately display the contents of its screen onto the monitor so that others seated at the table can view it more readily and in a larger format. They can display multiple devices on the screen by simply unplugging one and plugging in another. The stations also provide electrical access for the charging of laptops and other devices.
These stations will help to facilitate group work among students. They may initially be of most use to engineering and computer science students, as they resemble the ones already in service in these academic units. They will prove helpful to any students or other members of the NIU community who are working on group projects and seek to share the contents of their device’s display with their collaborators.
“The Libraries and the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) saw a partnering opportunity to provide a more technology-rich environment to our students, and concurrently, we learned that the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) had installed similar workstations. Those workstations quickly became very popular with the students,” said University Libraries Dean Fred Barnhart.
“We followed the same specifications developed by the engineering students to build the library’s collaboration stations and at a cost far less than had we purchased them for from a commercial vendor. In fact, we have installed five stations for less than the cost to purchase one similar unit from a popular vendor. In the present financial climate, the university needs to do all it can to use funds efficiently, and DoIT and the CEET gave us a way to do just that,” he said.
“In addition, we knew that computer science classes often use this type of workstation, and it seems likely that students from other disciplines will also find them useful. Given that academic libraries have become the go-to place for collaboration, it made sense to deploy these workstations.”
The new collaboration stations are located in the southeastern corner of the first floor of Founders Memorial Library, adjacent to the Scholars’ Den. Large posters and other signs provide directions to them, beginning in the main lobby.
Students and other parties lacking the specific cables needed to connect their device(s) to a collaboration station may check them out from the library security desk located near the circulation desk and the main entrance to the first floor.