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Lab-of-the-Month: Willis

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Lab-of-the-Month: 

The Willis 24hr General Access Computer Lab

By Dr. Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, Student Computing Services Manager

Are you the type to finish a paper for an 8:00 a.m. class at 7:59 a.m. on the day it is due? Do you think of Winter Break not as a time to go skiing but as a time to catch up on all the research you enjoy doing? Do you think of 2:00 a.m. not as a good time to be sleeping but as a great time to be doing your WebCT assignments? Then the Willis 24hr lab is definitely the lab for you. With 24/7 service nearly 52 weeks a year, the Willis lab is the true "workhorse" of the General Access Lab system. Lab manager Judy Hunter emphasizes the vital role of the lab in the UNT community since it is the only facility available to faculty, staff, and students almost continually 'round the clock and throughout the year.

Getting in

Accessible via an outside door at the main entrance of the Willis Library, the lab has a particular emphasis on general computer work and research and the wordprocessing that accompanies the completion of research projects. The lab has acquired many new machines and services in the past year including 35 PIII-800 Windows NT computers, 2 PIV-2gHz Windows NT machines with attached scanners, 2 Macintosh G4 towers (one with a scanner), and two large-capacity laser printers. The management of the Willis lab is also very helpful in assisting students with research projects that require special equipment and software and in the past, have worked with other university areas to provide resources during late evening and holiday hours for these patrons.

The Willis 24hr General Access Computer Lab
Every seat is filled at the Willis 24hr Lab!

Volume and quality can exist together

One point that cannot be emphasized enough is the sheer volume of patrons that the Willis lab handles each year. In addition to being the only 24 hour lab, the facility is located right in the center of campus making it the favorite location for the majority of students. Over 600 students a day check into the lab with an average of 70,000 visits per semester. Over 200,000 patrons used this lab last year and the numbers are expected to increase as the student population increases.

Hunter is particularly proud of how her lab employees are able to maintain a high level of professionalism in their relations with patrons especially under such intense facility utilization levels. Willis lab employees are typically accustomed to encountering users from all aspects of the university community and adjusting and adapting quickly to their hardware and software needs. Additionally, because of such high customer volume, Willis lab employees must be constantly vigilant in their handling of security and printer policies and the tracking of machine use. Often with a line of late night patrons waiting to type the final pages of soon-due papers, the Willis lab team must ensure that everyone gets a fair turn at a computer and are not delayed by casual game players or web surfers. This often adds up to a high stress job and Willis lab employees are sure to exhibit "grace under pressure!"

So next time you are near the Willis Library be sure to check out the bustling and energetic atmosphere of this terrific resource. And give a lab employee a smile; they are working hard for you! Be sure to check out the Willis 24hr lab Website to learn more about this facility.