The university’s new information technology and Morris Library collaboration launched earlier this semester to make tech assistance more accessible, and one university official says results have been positive so far.
While the university has offered the campus technical support for several years, the IT help desk hours were limited and students considered IT’s Northwest Annex location too far from their residence halls, said David Crain, the university’s chief information officer.
The complaints convinced IT staff and administrators to consolidate their help desk with a similar library help desk, he said.
“We are now offering operating hours until 11 p.m. on weekdays in a central location for students— something we’ve been working toward for months before the idea of moving everything into the library sprung up in late December,” Crain said.
Crain said Anne Cooper Moore, dean of library affairs, told him in late December that the library’s help desk offered some of the same services as
IT’s, and some students were unsure
which location would fix their issues. Crain and his staff accelerated help desk updates, which is an idea they had considered but never officially
planned, he said. “We’re in the midst of a full-scale
centralization effort on campus,” Crain said. “This method reduces cost to both the students and the university.”
The accelerated timetable has not been fully successful, though, and there have been issues with the service change, said Kelly Cummins, technology services director.
“The first few weeks, we had students showing up at the Northwest Annex who weren’t aware we’d moved, and taking our staff into the library has disrupted some of their traffic flow,” he said. “With any new program there are bumps, especially when we were on such a short timetable to get everything up and
running by the start of the semester.” Crain said the transition could have been smoother if IT had more time, but he thought it was more important to implement the program as soon as
possible. Beth Dallas, SalukiTech’s walk-in
service coordinator, said the number of service tickets has significantly increased since the program began.
“We’re still a work in progress, but with the number of personal electronic devices students own exploding, this is a service that needed to be born,” she said.
Both Dallas and Jake Dieters, SalukiTech call desk coordinator, said students bring the staff more significant issues because of the centralized location.
“More viruses are popping up on students’ computers now than ever, and we’ve seen an increase in those calls, while things like password resets and other minor issues have gone
down,” she said. Consolidation benefits include
more sharing of information and support efficiency, Cummins said.
“By branding the service and working with the library technicians, we have a much bigger umbrella under which to share our knowledge and help students,” he said. “We’re here to provide a better service to our students.”
That service, which includes virus removal, computer restoration and hardware support, is designed to give students a cheaper and easier alternative to third-party services like Best Buy’s Geek Squad, Dallas said.
“Most of our services are free for students,” she said. “However, even something like a complete operating system reinstall will run hundreds of dollars cheaper with SalukiTech than at Best Buy.”
Crain said a new library construction project, which will
create a service window located next to the existing service desk for students, could alleviate traffic. The window will allow staff to move from the library’s main help desk, he said.
“It’s great to be able to work with the library technicians, but we did kind of take over their space, so the new window will allow us to better serve our customers,” he said.
Ultimately, Crain and IT staff welcome the chance to provide students better service, as well as continue their professional relationship with the library.
Hailey Winka, a junior from Flora studying journalism, said the move has made help desk access much more available.
“It’s definitely more convenient at the library because a lot of students use their computers there,” she said. “Plus, it’s easier to get to from the residence halls.”
Even with the new accessibility, Winka said she’d prefer to contact a third party for her technical support.
“My mom works in tech support, so I’ll always call her first,” she said.