Mudd Life After A-Level Closure
This fall Mudd Library said hello to the Mudd Academic Commons and Azariah’s Café and goodbye to the beloved A-Level computer lab, home to Oberlin’s workaholics and insomniacs alike.
Some students are unhappy that the A-Level computer lab has been closed. There are still ten computers in the A-Level lobby and the quiet study room is still open, but without its computer lab, A-Level has far less student traffic than in past years.
John Bucher, Oberlin’s chief technology officer, worked on the Academic Commons steering committee. “It was clear from the start that budget limitations would not allow us to maintain two large computer facilities: in the Commons and the Mudd 052 lab. The Mudd 052 computers were due for an upgrade, and we decided that we would place those upgraded machines in the Commons,” he said.
He went on to explain that there are just as many computers available to students in the library as before the lab was closed.
However, there is no longer a secluded quiet zone for computer work, as the A-Level once was. Students have fond and not-so-fond memories of writing papers at 4 a.m. in A-Level during finals, silent as a tomb except for the feverish typing of twenty other students. In contrast, the noisy students flowing through the Commons can be distracting and the second floor computer lab is treated as a talking zone. What are students seeking quiet work areas to do?
The private offices on the second, third and fourth floors of Mudd are designated for students doing Honors projects, and some seniors have to share offices because so few are available, said Lisa Brlas, evening circulation desk supervisor.
Students can solve the computer lab dilemma by bringing a personal laptop if it fits into their backpack. There are loaner laptops available at the circulation desk, but half of them are out-of-date Gateways that are slower than most Mac laptops. “Students never take out PCs unless they have to,” says College sophomore Jesse Montgomery, a circulation desk assistant.
Students have had mixed reactions to the library’s changes. “I feel like as long as there’s the same number of computers or more, it’s fine,” said College sophomore Katrina Forman.
“I really like what they’ve done with the area and I use the library a lot more now,” said College senior Jeff Vaudrin-McLean.
“But I liked working [in A-Level], because it was quiet — up here there’s a ruckus atmosphere that is not conducive to getting work done,” said College junior Alex Visotzky.
Since the A-Level computer lab has been moved, the space is now available for other uses. According to Bucher, “CIT and the library were approached by the Arts and Sciences Dean’s office in the spring about the possibility of creating a faculty development center in Mudd 052. Since we no longer needed the space for a computer lab, we together determined that 052 could best be used for this purpose, so that’s what is planned for that area.”
Even if Oberlin students do find Mudd a little more crowded this year, they luckily have many spaces, including three other equally wonderful libraries, in which to tackle their mountains of work.