Finding computers on campus

Searching for an available computer in USF’s Tampa Library is like finding a parking space on campus: both activities are often time-consuming.

“There is always at least a ten minute wait, and I am annoyed when I see people on Facebook or MySpace while I have work to do,” said Martin Labbe, a senior studying theater arts who uses one of the computers every day for printing.

The Library usually offers more than 100 computers for students to use daily, which are used by about 1,000 students on any given weekday. Lately, however, some of these computers have been unavailable because of maintenance issues. Officials said the maintenance, along with other services in the works, should provide students with greater access to — and easier use of — campus computers.

Craig Woolley, director of Information Technology at USF, said the Library provides 140 machines for student use and, under normal circumstances, all computers should be open unless there are hardware issues.

Many of the computers are having new imaging systems consolidated. The installation process started about a month ago, he said. All of the computers that were fixed had different hardware problems, and parts were ordered and replaced.

“Maintenance is normally done over a break, but there were so many that needed it,” Woolley said. “Instead of waiting for a break, we decided to do it now.  We didn’t want to inconvenience students more.”

Tina Danh, a freshman majoring in biology, said she uses the Learning Commons computers at least three times a week. She often does not have to wait very long, she said, because not many people use them early in the morning.

For students who can’t get to the Library early, there are other places where computers are open for use. One of these is the Student Government Computer Services (SGCS) lab located in the Marshall Student Center.

Director of SGCS Amal Patel said 82 computers are available for student use. Six of these computers are Macs and five of them have scanners. Students can print 30 free pages per day at the SGCS lab. At the Library, each printed sheet costs 11 cents.

Traffic in the SGCS lab has almost tripled since the opening of the Marshall Student Center, said Patel.

“We get really busy between 10 in the morning and noon,” he said.

With so many hands touching the keyboards, keeping the computers germ-free can be an issue.

The computers at the SGCS lab have a routine cleaning schedule.

“Everything is brand new, and the computers get cleaned once a month,” Patel said.

The Library computers do not have a regular cleaning routine, Woolley said.

A routine will be implemented soon, however, along with broader services, such as having someone on hand to troubleshoot problems that students incur while using the computers, he said.

Uncleared computers don’t pose much of a health threat to students, said Student Health Services Director Egilda Terenzi.

“The keyboard shouldn’t pose any more of a problem than any other horizontal surface,” she said. “I recommend sanitizing hands before using the keyboards, and afterwards as well.”

Terenzi also recommended keeping hands away from the face and eyes while using the computers — especially with the upcoming flu season.

Other computer labs on campus are the Business lab, the Engineering lab and others located in the science buildings.