WiFi improvements made in Shields Library’s Main Reading Room

WiFi improvements made in Shields Library’s Main Reading Room

Photo Credits: ANH-TRAM BUI / AGGIE FILE

Library and IET Staff collaborate to install additional wireless access points

On Tues. March 19, staff members of Shields Library and the Information and Educational Technology (IET) placed new wireless access points in the library to improve WiFi coverage. Their collaborative efforts were a response to increased reports from students regarding slow WiFi in the Main Reading Room, located on the second floor of the library. An article from IET News said that the three new wireless access points will be able to “handle more than 300 smartphones, tablets, or other wireless devices at a time [while] prior wireless coverage came from access points downstairs.”

Chris Clements, the network operations manager for IET, explained that “the funding [for the three new wireless access points] was split between Library and […] Information and Education Technology.”

Members of the UC Davis Library staff Jessica Nusbaum and Dale Snapp provided The Aggie with a joint email statement. As Director of Communications and Marketing for Shields Library and the Head of Information Technology Infrastructure Services, respectively, Nusbaum and Snapp described the increased influx of comments regarding slow wireless coverage.

“Those comments were gradually increasing, so it was clearly time to take action,” they said. “The drain on wireless access points increases as it becomes more common for students to carry multiple wi-fi enabled devices, each of which uses bandwidth [the amount of data that can be sent from one point to another in a certain period of time]. […] It was important to improve the system to keep up with the way students study today.”

Since students typically carry multiple devices including phones, laptops and smartwatches, wireless coverage can be increasingly strained since each access point is treated the same and is using the same WiFi bandwidth.

Snapp gathered feedback from the student body by personally speaking with students studying in the Reading Room and using WiFi. Snapp asked students to test the new wireless access points and had positive responses, describing one interaction in particular.

“I asked one student to test out the WiFi,” Snapp said. “He reloaded the class lecture he was streaming and told me it was the first time he was able to stream a class video without it being choppy. It’s one of the best parts of my job when we’re able to make an improvement to the library’s technology that helps students out like that.”

Because the Reading Room is not the only area of Shields that experiences slower or weaker WiFi coverage, the IET staff and library staff plan to improve these other areas soon.

“While investigating the needs in the Main Reading Room, we also discovered some weak coverage spots on the west side of the second and third floors of the library (above the main entrance),” Snapp said. “We’ve added more study chairs in that area recently as well, and will soon be adding more wi-fi coverage to match.”

According to the article from IET News, the “IET also plans to improve other heavily used locations around campus, with a focus on providing efficient spaces to study.”

Nusbaum and Snapp both encouraged students to continue vocalizing their comments and concerns to the library staff, utilizing the technical support request form on the library’s website.

Written by: Priyanka Shreedar— campus@theaggie.org