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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Library updates Web site, adds more Word

Tisch Library now has Microsoft Office on every reference-area computer, a revamped Web site and stronger wireless Internet capabilities, thanks to a series of summer updates.

Student input last semester triggered many of the changes, according to Jo-Ann Michalak, the library's director.

The library Web site's redesign focused on centralizing information, and Michalak said the architects took many cues from TuftsLife.com, which was also given a face-lift this summer.

"We designed our previous page a couple years ago and lots of things have changed every year, and secondly, we actually took the time, this time, to interview students," Michalak said.

"We found that we use[d] misleading or non-understood terminology, the arrangement was hard, navigation was a pain in the neck," she added, explaining that the Web site is now more streamlined with a new "identity" and focused look.

The highlight of the new site is the "database multi-search" feature, according to Michalak. The feature, located in a search box in the center of the screen, provides students with the ability to search all databases to which the library subscribes.

In the past, the site did not have an all-encompassing database search feature, and students were required to search different databases individually or in predetermined groups. Eventually, students will be able to create their own database groups.

Matthew Salzberg, a junior, liked the idea of a centralized database search feature. In the past, "it's always been confusing looking for the correct database," he said.

In another sweeping change, all computers in the library's first-floor reference area now have Microsoft Office, a software package that includes Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint.

"The idea is that when you're here in the library doing your research, having to go bring your own laptop or check a laptop loaner out or go to the Eaton [Hall computer] lab is a pain in the neck," Michalak said.

Previously, only four of the computers in the library's reference area had Microsoft Office.

The library also expanded the amount of wireless access points in the building, more than quadrupling the previous number. Last semester, students were often frustrated by wireless outages at Tisch. One spate came when the library was crammed with students cramming for midterms on March 6.

According to Michalak, the previous amount of access points — between eight and 10, she approximated — was not sufficient during times of heavy Internet usage. There are now an additional 35 access points, she said.

"The wireless dropped out all the time," Salzberg said, referring to spotty Internet service last semester.

The library also plans to add several Macintosh computers to the building, according to Michalak, although she did not give a timeframe.

Tufts Community Union Senate Associate Treasurer Lauren Levine, a sophomore, praised the library's updates. "I think adding wireless access points is a great step to making the library an academic resource for students on campus. Today we really can't do our work and study without the Internet," said Levine, who co-chairs the Senate's Special Projects Committee. "I'm really impressed with all of the library's updates and changes. I think one of the best things about our library is that they are so responsive to what our students want and need."

In addition to the many technological changes at Tisch, another major summer update is still underway on the roof above students' heads.

The redesigning of the library roof should be completed by the end of November, according to Michalak. The new roof will feature outdoor seating areas and an abstract design.

Michalak said that the end date is slightly behind its original target, which was the start of this semester.

"I think that even though it's been a long process … it'll be worth the wait to have such a multi-faceted place on campus like the library roof," Levine said.

The Graduate Student Council at Tufts recently honored the library's work in responding to students' needs with a special award called the Graduate Student Council Service Award, according to Michalak.

"Tisch Library has shown time and time again that it sees graduate students as an important and vital constituency that should be listened to," the award reads.