Managing Public Computing · 17
unique approach to providing individualized tech-
nical assistance known as “Desktop Coaching.”
Since in so many cases computing needs have
blurred the lines between the library and its cam-
pus, the authors discovered instances where a li-
brary’s parent institution really went the extra mile
to engage students about their public computing
policies, such as the University of Delaware’s en-
tertaining and student-friendly “Responsible Use
of the Campus Network: A Student Handbook”
and the University of Virginia’s “Responsible
Computing Video.” Although not created by li-
braries, these two are among the more innovative
approaches the authors encountered for getting
the word out to the students who use the librar-
ies at these institutions. Please refer to the Selected
Resources section titled “Notable Innovations” for
a list of these exceptional efforts by ARL member
The management of public computing contin-
ues to evolve in ARL libraries. This evolution de-
pends to a great degree on local budgeting and
staffing considerations as well as on the structure
of IT management in the libraries and their parent
institutions. Although staff support is similar in
many of them, the processes employed differ. The
wild card in the overall picture usually relates to
rising or falling trends in the computing behavior
of library users, whether faculty, students, or oth-
ers. Some libraries accommodate new kinds of as-
signments by the faculty they serve, for example by
providing access to multimedia production facili-
ties, poster printers, and so forth. In such libraries
the nature of class assignments is driving the nature
of the computing environments. Many respondents
noted that seemingly every generation of students
is increasingly tech-savvy, bringing with them a
continuous stream of new and changing expecta-
tions. Like other areas of the survey, just how these
expectations are met varies from place to place,
sometimes even within the same institution. As
some have noted, “A basic philosophical issue for
libraries is the extent to which we should move in
the direction of the users and how much we should
expect users to move in our direction.” (Thomas &
McDonald, 2005) The results of this survey show
that managing public computing continues to be
complex task with a diverse set of challenges.
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