SPEC Kit 330: Library Contribution to Accreditation  · 135
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Institutional Self-Study Prepared for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Chapter 7:
Library and Other Information Resources
Chapter 7: Library and Other Information Resources
Chapter 7 Page 89
department during orientation and at events throughout the year. In addition, before arriving at MIT,
incoming first-year students receive a letter recommending options for computer purchases. Although
students are expected to acquire their own computers (and 96 percent do), the Laptop Loaner Program
was initiated to ensure that all students have the computational resources to do faculty-assigned academic
Athena system
The Athena system is a centrally managed, campus-wide computing environment consisting of networked
client workstations, servers, and printers available to MIT students and faculty to help them achieve their
academic goals. This scalable and secure system provides:
Electronic “course lockers” for storing personal and course-related materials
Electronic tools for easily and securely delivering Web pages
Software for students and faculty to use in doing coursework
Software for communication among students and between students and instructors
In addition to standard compilers, Web browsers, and communications tools, Athena offers both cross-
disciplinary and specialized applications, including FrameMaker, Matlab, Maple, Mathematica,
Molecular Simulations, SAS, S-Plus, Tecplot, ArcInfo, ArcView, and Xess.
Policies regarding appropriate use of technology resources
MIT’s IT policies provide a framework for the responsible use of the Institute’s computing and
telecommunications resources. These policies require compliance with relevant legal, contractual, and
professional obligations whenever information technology is used. In addition, individuals using Institute
resources may not interfere with the appropriate uses of information technology by others. The MIT
Libraries likewise specify the appropriate uses of library resources and technology, and outline the
standards of behavior expected of members of the MIT community and visitors alike.
IT policies also cover the privacy of Institute records; information security and preservation; the privacy
of electronic communications; and the acquisition and use of third-party products and services. Institute
Archives policies similarly address the access and use of Institute records and related equipment.
The Institute also has a responsibility to present clear guidelines on the proper use of all copyrighted
materials, particularly digital ones, and to disseminate information on these policies. Working with the
Office of the General Counsel, IS&T and the MIT Libraries have helped produce a unified, online source
of information on copyright for the MIT community: Copyright at MIT (http://web.mit.edu/copyright/).
Evaluating IT effectiveness
IS&T takes seriously community evaluation of IT resources and has several mechanisms for gathering this
information and using it to guide strategy.
Since 2002, IS&T has conducted a customer-satisfaction survey every 18 months. This survey is distributed
to a random sample of the MIT population in order to collect objective data about what is working and what
could be improved. While certain survey questions have changed as technologies have evolved, other
questions have been kept consistent to track changes in users’ views over time. The most recent survey was
distributed in October 2008 to approximately 1,500 faculty, staff, and students. IS&T received 605
responses—a robust 40 percent response rate.
When respondents were asked about their perception of IS&T services over the past year, 90 percent
indicated that services had improved. Furthermore, the department’s overall satisfaction score rose from
4.79—on a six-point scale—in May 2002 to 4.93 in October 2008. Survey respondents were most satisfied
with the professionalism and technical ability of the help desk, with the wired network, with IS&T’s ability
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