Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Basement Lights: No, It's Not Closed!

Mantor's director just sent out the following notice:
After the lighting audits on campus last year, a plan was developed to save energy with sensors and timers on lights in the library.  In most cases, it has been a great fix, but we have a situation I want people to be aware of as we head into finals week.

At this point, the basement area, which has study rooms and houses part of the book collection, has most of the lights off most of the time, and they are activated by motion sensors.  We have been able to get a switch for 2 rows, so at least it will not appear to be closed (we had some students thinking it was closed because the lights were off).  We are putting up signs letting students know that if they move into an unlighted area, the sensors should detect them and turn on the lights.  We will also have signs up in the stacks and in the study rooms saying if the lights go off, students can wave their arms and the sensors should detect them and come back on (we have had the lights go off on students in the study rooms).  I know some of you are laughing at this, and all I can say is sometimes you never know you will have a problem until you have a problem.  Thanks for your support
 I thought I'd just add a few thoughts about this, themed for our Technology Tuesday blog edition. Change in technology can be a difficult thing. One of the problems with a major transition is the learning curve involved. Take going from Windows XP to Windows 7. It can be scary. You're not sure if your devices are going to work at the end of the road, or if you'll end up having to buy new ones of find elaborate work arounds to get the ones you have to work for now. And these unknowns can make you really reluctant to try anything different. What you've had has been working for years, so why branch out? Why bother?

In the case of these lights at Mantor, we're branching out in an effort to be more environmentally friendly. To use less energy. And yes, there are some bumps on the road, but we'll get through them. In a month or two, this will all be a distant memory (I hope!). The same thing happened on campus recently as we all got new copy machines that could be networked to work as printers, too. I went from having my own personal printer right by my computer to having a networked printer off in the adjoining room. Is it as convenient? No. Did it take some effort to figure out how to use it properly? Yes. But I'm now happier with it than I was with my personal printer.

And that's why we do it. We make these changes because sooner or later, we reap the benefits. I upgrade computers with a fair bit of trepidation--just because I know how much effort will be in store for me. But at the end of the effort is the reward: shiny new parts, faster processors, increased capabilities. Yes, we can bemoan the fact that every few years, the products we have that seemed so great are now out of date.

But you know what? Why not be excited instead? Because what that means is that technology has gotten significantly better in just a few years. That's great, and we should all be in favor of it.

So, yes. If you're in the book basement in the next few days and the lights go off on you, wave your hands in the air. Feel a little foolish, but know that we're making things better. Just bear with us. :-)

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