The stacks in Butler Library are known for many things, but until now, wireless Internet has not been one of them.
Over winter break, Columbia University Information Technology updated the wireless Internet service in Butler as part of a University-wide system upgrade that started last year—an update that included the tomblike stacks.
When the service alert signs went up in Butler the week before classes, students already on campus took notice. Although portions of the stacks have previously had wireless access, many students still consider the Internet-free zone a less distracting place to study than traditional study spaces such as the reading rooms or Butler Lounge, where a half hour of procrastination is only a few clicks away.
“I always go into the stacks when I don’t want any distractions, because I’ll end up on Facebook and blogs,” Hannah Cohen, CC ’15, said.
The network upgrade, which took place last week, strengthened Internet connection throughout the building and extended the wireless range by placing new routers in existing wireless access points, according to Robert Cartolano, director of the Libraries Information Technology Office.
“The upgraded wireless network will provide students with access to our library’s extensive collection of millions of ebooks, journal articles, databases and many other electronic resources, along with access to University and other Internet services,” Cartolano said in an email.
Jessica Kalay, director of strategic communications, added that the new technology “may slightly increase the amount of area covered” by each router and is up to eight times faster than the previous system.
Most of the wireless coverage for the stacks comes from technology housed outside the actual stack area, according to CUIT. CUIT did not specify which areas of the stacks received improved wireless access, but the upgrade affected primarily those sections closest to the new wireless infrastructure.
To some, this announcement came as an exciting development, which will allow students to look up call numbers more easily and do research while in the stacks.
Serena Dasani, CC ’13, said she does not usually study in the stacks, but called the upgrade welcome news.
Others, however, felt less enthusiastic about the changes.
“When I go to the stacks I don’t want any interruptions,” Yohana Beyene, CC ’13, said. Having wireless everywhere “makes Columbia too perfect, in a sense.”
Ben Eckersley, CC ’13, agreed that he has enjoyed having limited wireless access in the stacks, but felt the upgrade wasn’t a major issue. Not having any wireless access “is a good self-regulation tool,” he said. “But I find ways to procrastinate anyway, so it’s fine.”