Arc de Triomphe: Library unveils cutting-edge technology center

In years past, University computer labs were pretty much the same — the same software, same hardware and same basic setup.

Not anymore.

Welcome to the Arc, the new Library Technology Center. Housed on Level A (one floor below the main level) of Olin Library, the Arc is taking access to technology to a new level for students, staff and faculty.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton (left) looks on as student assistant Jonathan Potier describes the various aspects of iMovie at a workstation in Olin Library’s new technology center, the Arc. — Photo by Kevin Lowder

“The University’s libraries provide a wide range of digital information, but we have not had the facility to show users the breadth of resources or to help them incorporate those resources into their projects,” said Shirley K. Baker, vice chancellor for information technology and dean of University Libraries. “We can facilitate their use of digital information, just as we do for manuscript or archival materials. The Arc lets us do that.”

Much of the technology in the Arc could be found elsewhere at the University. But a few distinct differences exist, all with making accessibility much easier.

“While a number of applications and equipment that the Arc offers are not new to the campus, the Arc is distinct in that it offers these tools to all members of the University population (rather than an individual class or teaching assistants),” said Arc Manager Sarah Bombich, who was hired specifically to oversee the new center. “In this way, the Arc integrates with existing campus technology and expands the breadth and depth of that technology’s reach.

“As information increasingly comes in multimedia formats, it follows that having access to quality multimedia-content creation tools is increasingly important to all aspects of the University population. The Arc looks to help enable and spread the ability of all members of the community to draw on the libraries’ digital resources and create quality digital projects from various material formats.”

The technology available at the Arc is truly overwhelming, and the Web site makes it very clear what can be found.

Graduate students Cristina Draghici (left) and Saida Sultanic experiment on one of the computers in Olin Library’s new technology center, the Arc. — Photo by Kevin Lowder

“Support is available in the form of hardware, software and staff expertise in the creation and manipulation of digital media,” the site reads. “Librarians are available to help patrons locate appropriate library resources and incorporate them into their research or teaching project.

“Technical assistance is available to help visitors with special hardware and software needs. Various levels of printing support are provided.

“Typical projects which might occur in the Technology Center include: digitizing and editing images, text, slides, VHS; preparation of interactive tutorials and course modules; and development of multimedia presentations incorporating sound, video, animation, images, and text.”

To the average person, all of this might be overwhelming. But the Arc staff is there to help. In addition to Bombich, Steven Vance serves as Arc assistant, and there will be 14 part-time student assistants on hand to help with any questions or to give tutorials on certain software.

“Though not inclusive of all our knowledge, Steven and I have experience and are particularly interested in Web design, video editing and digital photography,” Bombich said. “Steven and I are not yet experts on every type of technology available, but our total staff is rich in technology knowledge. I think that we have at least one person that can provide training on just about every supported hardware/software item in the Arc.”

Members of the University community can walk in and get support on Macromedia Flash, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office, Macromedia Dreamweaver, HTML coding, Adobe Photoshop and iMovie.

The Arc is much more than an expanded computer lab, though. In addition to the main room full of computers, scanners and printers, the technology center has other rooms that people will find valuable.

The Arc Lab is the signature space in the Arc. This curved classroom (hence the name Arc) has 18 computers and can seat up to 24 people comfortably.

The Arc Lab can be divided into two smaller classrooms. If a class has fewer than 10 people, it will likely get one of these smaller rooms.

The Arc Lab features a Sympodium — a podium with a computer, laptop ports, and complete audio-visual and room controls built in.

The Presentation Room is a lecture-style room with chairs and tablet tables for 36 people. The Presentation Room also has a Sympodium.

There are two consulting rooms that seat three or four people. Each room has a TV/VCR, computer, scanner and multimedia software.

The consulting rooms provide a space for Arc staff to assist visitors in planning digital projects. These rooms may be reserved for up to three hours by students, faculty and staff who require the unique capabilities of these spaces.

“Sample uses for these rooms include classes learning a new piece of software (Arc Lab), showing a DVD to a class (Presentation Room), and librarians meeting one-on-one with students (consulting rooms),” Bombich said.

“Meetings that do not need the technology available in the Arc should use the group rooms available elsewhere in the library and on campus. The rooms may not be used as classrooms for regularly scheduled courses for an entire semester.”

While up and running right now, the Arc is waiting on the delivery of a few more pieces of equipment before being 100 percent ready. The gear is tentatively scheduled to arrive in the early part of April, and the Arc should be fully operational later this month.

“The Arc is meant to be a space in which members of the University community can collaborate, converse and experiment with new technology in ways that expand individuals’ expertise, understanding and ability to communicate,” Bombich said. “To further this goal, the Arc aims to offer a unique level of individualized and group training for its visitors.”

For more information on the Arc, go online to