Get your freshest java in the library
By Becky Somerville
In the wake of massive renovations to its infrastructure, D.B. Weldon Library has also had its computing architecture revamped through the addition of 250 networked computers.
Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc., an internet hardware and software provider, donated the equivalent of $500,000 through 250 JavaStation computers and two servers for use by students and faculty, explained Joyce Garnett, director of libraries at Western.
In an effort to evaluate cost-effective computer access to Weldon, Western's senior administration underwent a pilot program where 10 of the systems were installed in the Allyn and Betty Taylor Library, explained Garnett.
"Staff were spending a lot of time rebooting and maintaining the [old] machines," she said.
The technical support required by Weldon's staff prompted administration to look for alternatives to stand-alone personal computers. "It means the library can provide more technology with the same amount of staff," Garnett said.
Approximately one half of the workstations are functioning and are located throughout the general reference area, in the Spencer Room and at work stations all through the library, in addition to the original PCs, she added. "This gives students that many more points of access to the electronic universe."
The remainder of the computers on the network will be used in the Allyn and Betty Taylor Library, Garnett said.
The inception of the JavaStation network provides a vehicle for students to access the internet, email and the online systems and databases at Weldon, explained Mike Bauer, senior director of Information Technology Services at Western.
As well as improved security and more efficient, centralized desktop maintenance, the addition of the network helps to alleviate congestion at the Natural Science Centre's email lab, he added.
"They are a technology which theoretically you can advance in the long run and are much easier to manage than PCs," Bauer said.
Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western, explained the JavaStation terminals have an advantage over PCs since only one server has to be upgraded instead of several separate units.
The reason to explore network computing is it has the advantage of requiring less maintenance per machine, making the cost per unit and services less expensive, he said.
Moran considered the new network computing system to be one dimension of the expanding resources being offered to Western students which he hopes will augment through Western's association with Sun Microsystems. "It really does put us on the leading edge of a new technology," he added.