Monday, November 19, 2007

Dual Monitors Enhance Student Productivity When Using Computers at Ball State University Libraries

The University Libraries have expanded the functionality of 40 PC workstations on Bracken 1-East by installing a second monitor. The Windows desktop appears over the span of both 19” LCD monitors. In effect, this doubles the amount of computer desktop workspace available for students and faculty who are using these workstations.

In addition to this new display technology in Bracken Library, dual monitor workstations are available for users in the Science-Health Science Library and will be soon in the Architecture Library. And 108 additional dual monitor workstations will be installed in Bracken Library by the end of December. Visitors to the main library’s Geospatial Resources and Map Collection (GRMC) area have been able to benefit from the use of dual monitor systems for several years.

By expanding availability of dual monitor workstations in the Bracken 1 East area, more customers have greater desktop workspace for increased productivity. For example, walking through the area, one may see a student with a Word document and an Excel sheet open, or a student may be editing text from two open Word documents. A student working on a software development project recently commented that she appreciated the increased desktop space since it allowed her to have her development environment open on one display and the result window open in the other.

Use of dual monitors also increases employee work productivity, and this has been evident in various offices in the University Libraries. Staff in the Archives and Special Collections, Library Information Technology Services, Metadata and Digital Initiatives, and Interlibrary Loan areas find value in the dual display workstation. Information Services librarians will benefit from dual monitors later this month when dual monitor systems are installed at their workstations.

Costs to implement this solution are reasonable. Since the Windows operating system automatically recognizes multiple monitors, only a second monitor and an additional video port for the computer are required. Identical monitors are ideal, but not absolutely necessary. In order to upgrade these computers, dual head DVI video cards and 40 monitors were purchased.

The University Libraries are continually searching for opportunities to bring the best technology solutions to students and faculty using the University Libraries. Expanding usability of public access workstations by adding a second monitor is an example of providing technology to increase productivity.

For more information, contact Bradley D. Faust, Ball State University Libraries’ Assistant Dean for Library Information Technology Services,,765-285-8032.

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