By Vivian Ramirez
Students can expect a high-tech learning environment and modernized study space with the opening of the Helen Miller Bailey Library on the first day of summer classes.
The renovation of the library includes an expansion of the building by 11,850 sq. ft., a more helpful study environment, and upgrades to service areas and technology. The new library will occupy a total a total of 56,241 sq. ft.
The Modernization of the Helen Miller Bailey Library, as the project is called, began Dec. 14, 2009. The construction is scheduled for completion this April. Construction for the library was delayed, as the original opening date was August 2011. Construction was delayed due to weather, missing items and the hiring of a new contractor.
The new library will include two classrooms for library workshops and orientations, 240 student computers and express stations, along with 23 group study rooms. It will also feature an increased number of copy machines, a conference room, restrooms on both floors, and security cameras at the entrances, exits, and elevator.
The mural by the staircase that occupied the old building will still be there. The mural was protected during construction and has remained untouched. All this new technology is intended to provide a more efficient study environment. One of the library’s new features is a system called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).
RFID technology is a system that uses radio waves to identify objects. Each book in the library will include a 2×2 in. RFID tag that looks like a sticker of the library’s logo. This tag can wirelessly transfer information to receivers, such as check-out stations.
The RFID tags work similar to the bar code scanners that are currently used for checking out books, but can hold more data and can be rewritten. All check-out stations will include RFID, which will allow librarians and staff to scan up to five books at one time.
This will mean that lines will move quicker and students can use time more efficiently. For students in a hurry, self check-out stations will also be available. The RFID system will also help librarians determine if books are out of order. With a handheld scanner, staff can scan a row of books and immediately know if a book is in the wrong location.
Currently, staff has to do a visual check to see if there is a misplaced book. “This is more efficient for staff maintenance and inventory. It will give you an inventory and we will know which books are missing from the collection,” said Choonhee Rhim, Chair of Library Science.
West Los Angeles College already has an RFID system, and Los Angeles Harbor College will soon be equipped with this technology upon completion of its library. The ELAC library has a collection of 100,000 books and DVDs.
To ensure a timely move of material, RFID tagging began in December and is expected to be complete sometime this month. Many students might not know that the books in the current library are not all the books the library owns.
The current library does not have the capacity to hold 100,000 volumes, so books have been stored in two other locations. The six temperature-controlled containers that are stationed near the C2 bungalows contain a collection of the library’s rare, aging books.
The warehouse across the street from the South Gate campus is also being used for book storage. In April, the books from the containers and the Firestone warehouse will be moved into the new building.
“The most challenging tasks will be moving the books from three locations, merging them together, and organizing them by call number,” said Rhim. The number of computers will also rise dramatically, from the current 78 to 240.
The new computers will operate with Thin Client technology, which will eliminate the Central Processing Unit (CPU) holder. Thin Client saves space and students will only see the monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
This technology also helps prevent CPU hardware theft. In addition to the 240 computers, there will be 10 express computer stations. These are stand-up only stations that operate like regular computers, can send print jobs, and have no time limit.
“The new library will be more efficient for students. There will be no long lines and if students are in a rush, they can check-out by themselves and go to class,” said Rhim. Furniture and equipment is expected to be installed during April and May.
The installation of security camera systems, fire alarms, card access readers, and data and phone lines is currently underway. On June 5, the temporary library will close its doors and begin to vacate the gym for its new home.