New year, new surprises, new semester.
N.C. Central University students returned to campus from winter break to a newly renovated James E. Shepard Memorial Library.
The library’s first floor now features a Mega Lab – comprising three additional computer labs with 155 computers.
The renovations also include a Techno Lounge that gives students a place to study, a laptop bar and a new sign for the Eagles Café.
NCCU’s Information Technology Services is now headquartered on the first floor, as well.
Family consumer science senior Nija Parker said the renovations make the library look inviting.
“I like the atmosphere and the colors,” said Parker. “It’s a good study atmosphere.”
Chemistry junior Nicole Boone said she really enjoys the new library compared to the old one.
The old library was just an ordinary place, and it wasn’t inviting,” said Boone. I think the new library is beautiful and well put together.”
The first floor of the library was sectioned off for construction in September, leaving students to use the second floor to check out books and use computers.
The MegaLab replaces nine computer labs in buildings around campus that were closed permanently on July 31, 2014.
The labs were in the Farrison-Newton Communications Building, the Albert N. Whiting Criminal Justice building, the H. M. Michaux, Jr. School of Education, and six other locations.
Chief Information Officer Leah Kraus told the Campus Echo that those nine labs were closed because they were underutilized.
“Once we ran the stats on the utilization of the lab, the total numbers of availability and the total numbers of computers on average, there was about 15 percent utilization,” said Kraus.
Kraus said the underutilization of computers across campus in many locations created challenges for the technical staff, resulting in the plan for become a Mega Lab.
She said the plan was to also place the Information Technology Services in the library so that it will be in the center of campus and accessible to students.
Information Technology Manager Patrice Walker said that the Mega Lab will be good tool for students and that she is glad ITS headquarters will be more accessible.
“It gives the students more resources and allows them to learn and collaborate easier,” said Walker.
Kraus said NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White freed up some Title III funds and Educational and Technical funds to help pay for the $1.27 million project.
NCCU Director of Library Services Theodosia Shields said she was excited about the renovations and the opportunities it will provide for students.
“It’s simply beautiful and it provides many opportunities for students,” said Shields.
Mass communication junior Ithiopia Lemons said it really helps commuter students like her.
“It’s a great place for me to go and chill in between my classes,” said Lemons.
The Shepard Library had not been renovated since 2008.