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Access granted

A research paper is due in three hours and the computer at home is broken. Often, desperate students would head to the computer lab in the Library to finish the paper. Upon arrival, the room is packed and a line has formed. Take a number.

With the USF Library expanding its reference section and installing software applications on its reference PCs, this ritual may become a thing of the past.

The USF Library is moving PCs from its computer lab into its reference section and adding applications such as MS Word and MS Excel to all the PCs in the section.

Previously, software that students need to complete coursework was unavailable on the reference computers. Students without access to a PC were forced to cram into the lab in order to use computers equipped with the applications.

“I come to the Library every day,” Tiffany Crawford, a political science major, said. “I’m glad that all the computers will have Word and Excel because when you would go to the computer lab you would have to wait in line to finish your work.”

With the combination of the reference area and the academic computing lab, all the computers within the USF Library will be equipped with software required to complete coursework.

“It is a large software upgrade,” said Jared Hoppenfeld, assistant to the library director. “It’s going to give every computer on the first floor the same software that was only found in academic computing. It will now be available at all the computers in the reference area.”

According to Hoppenfeld, there are approximately 160 computers in the Library. With the overhaul, the Library will be equipped to handle approximately 250 computers, making it much more accessible to students.

“They are combining all the computers in the reference department with academic computing on the first floor,” Hoppenfeld said. “Once that is completed they will purchase more computers. The new carpeting is in, the computers have been moved, and next week sections of the Library will be open to the public. But there is still more work to be done.”

The Library is also hoping to improve communication with students. Now that all the computers are being moved from the academic computing lab, the reference desk will be staffed with a computer specialist to assist with a wider range of problems.

“We’re going to combine service points because right now we only have a reference desk,” Hoppenfeld said. “Now there will be what we call an Information Commons. It will have a librarian and a computer tech, so if someone has a question, depending on the problem, we’ll have the answer.”

While the expansion solves the problem of the Library’s accessibility, its hours of operation still remain an issue.

The Library closes at midnight on weekdays except on Friday when it shuts at 6 p.m.

“Student Government has always asked for extended hours and we’ve been looking at the figures to keep it open longer,” Hoppenfeld said.

The Library has extended hours during exam periods, but some students would like to see longer operations more often.

“I think it should be open longer on Friday,” Crawford said. “I think it would be nice to have it open 24 hours, but I don’t think it would be worth it financially.”