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Stanford Report, October 6, 1999

East Wing spotlights new technologies

While the explosion of information technologies offers library users much more than printed matter, it also can cause confusion.

To help people navigate the array of resources now available -- in printed volumes, on the Internet, on CD-ROMs and in specialized databases -- a new Information Center has opened on the first floor of Green Library's East Wing. The center, which replaces the reference desk, is designed to be the primary contact point for information, reference and research needs in humanities, sciences, social sciences and government documents.

The first floor of the 1980 building was gutted. In the process, a row of offices that had window views was removed to open up the floor to wide views of verdant campus surroundings.

"The intention here was to create a counterforce to the very traditional literary space" of the restored Bing Wing, said University Librarian Michael Keller.

The work in Green East began only this summer.

"This may be the fastest construction program ever," said Kären Nagy, deputy university librarian. "Some elements aren't there yet," she said, including a bank of 32 computer terminals and a "media bar" behind the main information desk.

In addition, the library is still seeking funding for a "media wall" to be located at the entrance of the East Wing.

"It will be very hip, very high tech," Keller promised. He foresees a variety of interactive media that can help users find what they need in the library, as well as monitors displaying live news feeds, for example.

"We're trying to make the students self-sufficient in their use of information resources," he said. "We may put up self-guided tours or we may end up doing some modest teaching of small groups." Technical assistance also will be available to provide assistance with use of the computer cluster and other electronic devices such as scanners and printers.

The Information Center includes a print collection of 25,000 volumes, as well as digital sources, and incorporates Interlibrary Services and Current Periodicals, which are located in adjacent reading areas. As more information becomes available in digital format, the printed collection is expected to diminish in size.

Information Center staff can assist users with questions about government documents and respond to requests for information on political or economic impacts of a topic. They can refer advanced research questions to the new Humanities and Social Sciences Resource Centers located in the adjacent Bing Wing. The Bing Wing's renovation includes new and improved connections to Green East so that programatically the two buildings function as one. SR