It’s a Wednesday night, and the library is pretty quiet. A handful of students lounge about doing homework, chatting about their plans for the evening once they escape the clutches of their professor’s homework and the confines of the stacks. Meanwhile, I’m settling into a couch, scattering papers and books around me while nestling my laptop in the crook of my arm.
Once I’ve attained an optimal level of comfort – not so relaxed that I’ll doze off, but comfortable enough to avoid neck and back cramps – I reach for my coffee and steal a glance at my glowing screen, only to see that all-too-familiar low-battery warning pop up in the lower right-hand corner.
No big deal, right? I’ll just plug this into the wall and . . .
Ah, yes. I forgot. Electrical outlets in the library tend to reject plugs that don’t have three prongs; it’s as if the outlets are too large for plugs that were made after the Stone Age. After several minutes of acrobatics and improvisations with chairs, books, pillows and whatever else I can get my hands on, a makeshift Tower of Pisa stands tall with my power cord resting precariously on said stack, propping the plug at the appropriate angle to maintain plug-outlet interaction.
The sad little empty-battery symbol at the bottom of my screen vanishes, but as soon as I tuck my feet underneath me another bubble pops up on my screen. Luckily for me, the wireless internet signal in the library is strong – but I have limited or no connectivity.
After rebooting my computer a few times and switching back and forth between TigerNet Guest and TigerNet Student, I realize my attempts are futile and head to the front desk to inquire whether I must first perform some sort of tribal internet dance or sacrifice one of my textbooks to the gods of WiFi.
The response I got was, “Oh, you just have to move around. There are just some places in the library where our wireless doesn’t work.”
Wait – what? The library is essentially the most important resource on campus. What’s the point in “strongly recommending” students to bring laptops to college if they’re only going to get mediocre access to online databases and resources while on campus?
Sure, they could use the few desktop computers provided, but if students can only rely on a handful of desktop computers to complete research and homework, there would be lines out the front doors of Forsyth and down the streets of campus.
Consider this: in the Writing Center – where the computers are archaic and most don’t accept flash drives – students often need to print their papers before a tutoring session.
Without reliable wireless access, students cannot use their laptops to email papers to the account tutors set up expressly to avoid jump-drive problems, forcing the session to be completed by way of an electronic copy – something the Writing Center tries to avoid for a number of reasons.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve managed to locate various coordinates in the library that are prime locations for network access – but I shouldn’t have to. Fort Hays’ students are paying enough money to ensure easy internet access on campus, especially in the library. And believe me – I am not the only student who has encountered these problems.
Oftentimes, while studying on the main floor, I’ll look around in angst and see an equally annoyed student scowling at a computer screen, who, in turn, glares and asks gruffly if my internet isn’t working either.
It’s a problem, Fort Hays, and it needs to be fixed. Students shouldn’t have to know a secret series of knock-knock jokes or incantations in order to connect to the internet, and they shouldn’t have to wait four hours for a desktop to open up on the main floor just to get onto TigerTracks or resource databases.
As a school that’s touted as primarily wireless and electronically advanced, where all students are strongly encouraged to have laptops, an issue such as sporadic network access shouldn’t even exist.
I’ve heard rumors that the library will be getting a much-needed makeover sometime in the near future, and I hope it does.
My intention is not to criticize our library, though. My aim is to remind the “higher-ups” that the library is an indispensible component of the college student’s education – so let’s do something to fix the mysterious vanishing WiFi network and speed up the process of “Project Revamp the Library.”