Carolina State University
SACS Compliance Certification
August 15, 2003
Standards: Educational Programs 3.8.1 (appropriate facilities and IT resources)
Because the requirements and standards related to library and other learning/information resources overlap, each compliance report addresses a different dimension, as follows:
The present report will address physical facilities and information technology resources provided by the NCSU Libraries, the overall computing environment, instructional facilities, and research facilities.
The NCSU Libraries
Physical Facilities in the Libraries
Together, D. H. Hill and the branch libraries currently provide 434,000 gross square feet of space. Facilities studies conducted during the 1990s indicated that this was not enough space to serve the university community well. Of particular concern was space for collections, student seating, and staff work areas.
In response, the Libraries has completed several projects designed to alleviate space pressure in the near term; their success is evident in the results of student surveys indicating a high level of satisfaction with access to the Libraries’ databases and collections, suggesting that lack of physical space has not hindered their access to information. For a permanent solution, the Libraries has developed a master plan and funding strategy for adding new space. In addition, several projects were completed recently to alleviate space deficiencies. These include:
While no substitute for expanding its physical facilities, the Libraries does provide remote access to library resources, thereby easing some of the pressure created by space shortcomings:
In 2001, the university received $468 million from a UNC bond referendum to implement Phase I of a ten-year capital plan, including renovations and new construction. From this, the Libraries received $9.2 million for renovations and replacement of building systems. The UNC system is planning a second bond referendum support of Phase II of the capital plan, which is expected to add up to 250,000 assignable square feet to address remaining deficiencies, provide facilities on Centennial Campus, and allow for enrollment growth. (Resources #7 provides more details about the ten-year capital plan and bond referendum).
To guide development of the university’s capital improvements plan, the Libraries developed a new master plan in 2001-02. This plan was used to identify the highest priority needs and to stage capital improvements over the ten-year capital planning period and bond referenda.
Technology in the Libraries
Outside of the LRCDA, the Assistive Technologies Center provides state-of-the-art equipment and software for library users with impaired vision, mobility, or hearing. Videotapes, films, CDs, and other materials are available at the Media Center, which also provides audiovisual equipment.
With respect to information technologies, the Libraries takes a user-focused approach in making changes to its Web interface, including homepage and catalog interface. In early spring 2003, the Libraries began upgrading its integrated library system software from DRA to Sirsi Unicorn. The upgraded system will provide greater functionality for faculty, students, and library staff. The Libraries uses BlueAngel’s MetaStar Enterprise software to facilitate cross-database searching. The software is also being used to integrate data sources in new ways, giving users a more coherent view of their options.
The NCSU Libraries provides laptop computers for in-building use by students, faculty, and staff of NC State University and individuals who have a valid NCSU Libraries borrowing card. The laptops include Macintosh laptops and Dell laptops running either Windows 2000 or Linux OS. Laptops are available for loan at the main library and the four branch libraries. The laptops may be connected to the Internet throughout the buildings. Moreover, wireless networking is available in several areas of the main library. Personal laptops equipped with an IEEE 802.11-compliant wireless Ethernet card may be used, as well as library laptops. The Libraries lends wireless network cards for use within the building.
The Information Technology Division (ITD), under the Office of the Provost, provides leadership and support for the university’s academic computing and networking resources. To anticipate and prepare for rapidly advancing technology, ITD employs non line-management subject matter experts responsible for forecasting needs and reengineering processes. Recent accomplishments include the regional North Carolina Networking Initiative (NCNI) upgrade and the high performance computing (HPC) development. Otherwise, the unit has responsibilities in three broad categories:
The Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) division, also under the Office of the Provost, provides leadership and support for the university’s distance education activities, and it provides support for faculty in their use of technology for teaching, for research and for service.
Resource Management and Information Services (RMIS), in the Office of Finance and Business, develops and manages the administrative computing environment. RMIS supports administrative data and processes including admissions, student records and research administration.
Unity, the campus-wide multi-platform (Windows, Unix, Linux and Macintosh) academic computing environment, is supported by ITD. All NC State University faculty, staff and students automatically receive a computing account, with Unity privileges at a minimum. Unity computing accounts include e-mail services, an allocation of personal file space (currently 50 MB plus 30 MB of IMAP e-mail quota), support for personal web pages and access to approximately 550 Unity software applications (Unity/Unix, 350 applications; Unity/Windows and Macintosh ~100 each). The software ranges from screen readers and other assistive technologies to web-authoring tools (a complete list of software applications is available on the Web). As of April 2003, there were almost 52,000 active Unity accounts (students, faculty, full-time and part-time staff combined).
Decentralized organization requires on-going communication among the IT units to maintain a computing environment that is cost effective, flexible, and capable of meeting the changing needs of NC State University’s programs. Several committees coordinate activities and advise the chancellor and provost on IT issues.
All 34 campus residential halls, fraternity and sorority houses have port/pillow switched Ethernet connections. Network availability (backbone uptime) averages 0.9986 percent; the average peak monthly Internet load is 331 Mbps. NC State University is a charter university participant in Internet2 and home of one of two national Internet2 Test and Evaluation Centers.
In addition to Internet access, the campus backbone connects to the North Carolina Research and Education Network and to the regional NCNI backbone at two locations. The NCNI backbone is being upgraded to a Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) fiber optic backbone with multi-10GE links, and is scheduled to become a core node on the new National LightRail research network. This will provide NC State University and other regional research universities with access to capacities exceeding those of Internet2.
and Research Computing
Computing and the Wireless Network Environment
Servers and Services
Technology-enhanced Teaching Facilities
A media production facility provides course master tape inventory control, quality control, and duplication services for distance education course materials.
Support for Distance Education
Assistance with computer configurations, software interfaces, and technology problems is provided through NC State’s Computing Services Help Desk. The NCSU Libraries’ Distance Learning Services department provides access to library databases, electronic journals and articles, electronic reserves, reference services, a virtual library of full-text books, cooperative borrowing privileges across the UNC system, and rapid delivery of library materials to the student’s home or office.