The Unclassifiable Library Remix

Friday, March 18, 2011

Where oh where can my outlet be?

This is a problem for our library as well. I feel the pain myself often searching for a plug or having too many things to plug in and not enough outlets, not to mention the bag of power cords I have to carry around with me. You see people sitting on the floor, cords snaked here and yon waiting for unsuspecting ankles, furniture moved to accommodate outlets - who knew a simple thing like power could be such a big problem. Glad to know we're not the only place dealing with this issue - hell it's even a problem at the Pentagon. The furniture options mentioned is a great alternative for those places that can't magically make a new building or reconstruction happen. I would also love seeing the longer lasting batteries developed. In the meantime, I wonder what other creative solutions are hovering out there.

A Digital Generation Scours the Library for a Plug

By Michael Kelley
Dec 30, 2010
Thirty years ago, the only person in a library looking for an electrical outlet was a blue-smocked cleaning person who had to plug in a vacuum cleaner with a very long cord.
Times have changed.
Universities struggle to keep up
The problem cuts across all library sectors.
"The lack of adequate power is a fairly big issue for [the Dimond Library]," Tracey Lauder, the assistant dean for library administration at the University of New Hampshire, told LJ. "Students frequently move large tables and soft seating closer to walls with outlets, or they bring their own extension cords, which obviously can be a hazard," she said.
"Plugs are popular" was number four on the list, because without them the digital generation cannot power the connection to information or with one another.
"It extends the social network, where students can sit and talk and collaborate," Stephens told UAB Magazine.
To complicate matters, installing new outlets is considered an extra, and Dimond Library has to dip into its operating budget to pay for them. And they aren't cheap. The recent installation of six wall and six floor receptacles would have cost $10,568, but the decision was made to install the wall receptacles only during the library's redesign since the floor outlets would have required drilling.
Redburn also noted that at public libraries it's not so much the collaborative nature of work, as it is at universities, but the hard economic times that drive more people to the library in search of an interface for their media.
"People can't afford Internet service at home anymore, they can't afford a print cartridge, so there's a causal relationship between the economy and the growth of people using the library," she said.
"Consider the need for additional floor electrical outlets at circulation and reference desks, workrooms, offices for staff use, audiovisual areas, and in reading areas for customer use," reads one example in section 3-5.4.
But when a library wants to raise the bar on its electrical infrastructure, the answer is two words: raised floor.
The main benefit with raised floors is that the power distribution does not run in a fixed conduit, so the library can change the configuration of outlets.
Still, the ultimate answer, several sources said, may be longer lasting batteries, a part of the natural evolution of technology and the many curious problems it brings. Down the road, the question may be what to do with all the unused outlets.

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