Post Classifieds

NetID login excludes public

By Molly Miller
On February 10, 2014

When students use the Homer Babbidge Library computers, they can do so easily by logging in with a personalized NetID and password.
However, as a public institution, does the library have a duty to make more computers accessible to members of the public without NetIDs?
Margarita Halpine, a member of the public who earned a PhD from UConn in 1995, believes it does.
"Last summer... I was doing research in the library and needed to use a computer," Halpine said. "I was astonished to see that on the second floor you needed to log onto the computers in order to be able to use them. I asked a librarian about it and was told that "software issues" prevented members of the community from using the computers. I wasn't convinced."
20 percent of the computers are already available to the public without a NetID, according to Martha Bedard, Vice Provost for University Libraries.
These include two computers in each central lobby on the second, third and fourth floors, 18 computers in Bookworms Cafe, six on the wall across from the reserves desk, one outside of the leisure reading room on Level B and one across from the elevators on Level A.
Additionally, 60 computers in the library classrooms do not require a NetID.
Bedard said that while a map featuring these computers would be useful, such a map does not currently exist.
Bedard listed security concerns among the reasons for not making all computers accessible to the public.
"The university takes some responsibility for making the computers secure," said Bedard. "I also believe it's important that the computers we have in the library are used for academic purposes."
Bedard said that the tech fee students pay each year is used to maintain computer usage but they also want computers to be a resource to the community.
Because Connecticut residents pay taxes that contribute to UConn, Bedard sees the value of ensuring public usage.
"We are a library available to the public. We want the public to use it," said Bedard. "We are also an academic institution, and our priority is to meet the needs of the students."
Bedard's advice for non-student computer users was to avoid busy times of day and times when computers are most in use.
"Don't come during finals," said Bedard. "That may not be convenient, but that's the reality." Bedard mentioned that the computers in Bookworms, the library cafe, are available to the public 24 hours a day. Guests can also access the wireless network by registering for a GuestID.
Bedard explained that the university can't afford the licenses necessary to make all of the library's resources available to the public, but does believe in the importance of providing the public with a way to use more of the library's resources.
"We are looking at a way to make the rest of the computers available through guest access," said Bedard, suggesting that people who weren't students might use temporary identification cards.
"I was surprised we didn't have guest access already," said Bedard, who came to UConn during the fall semester, leaving a position at the University of New Mexico. Bedard said that many of the institutions she has previously worked at had greater access for members of the public.
However, Bedard said that guest access has been in the talks at UConn since before she arrived. She said that implementing a guest access system would cost a great deal of time and resources, although she was not able to provide a dollar estimate.
There is no set timeline or definite plan for implementing a guest access system. Bedard explained that while public access is important, priority for the library's resources has to go to the students.
 


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