For some students,
the information age has lightened their load for school-literally. A
laptop computer, a spiral notebook and a pen-what more does the savvy
student need to bring to school each day? Most students at the iSchool,
though, have found that just the opposite is true. The number of students
who actually own laptops is in the minority, and books, articles printed
from electronic reserves and personal items are heavier than ever.
A perfect example
is MLIS day student Stacy Schulze. Stacy has a sizeable backpack-the
same kind that is typically used by hikers going on expeditions-which
is usually crammed to the brim each day. In addition to pens and notebooks,
Stacy also generally brings along her laptop, which has a large, heavy-duty
case that is at least 3 inches thick. Her bike is her primary means
of transportation, so a helmet and-depending on the weather-raingear
are also a part of her daily routine. Stacy is also a member of a UW
wind ensemble group. On Wednesdays, she brings to school a collapsible
music stand, a folder with sheet music, her oboe and various items that
she may need for her instrument, such as spare reeds, a screwdriver,
etc. All of these items also go into the backpack-except for the ones
that don't fit, which she carries by hand all day long.
Stacy has the same
problem as many other students at the iSchool who don't happen to be
Ph.D. students or graduate assistants-too much stuff to carry around
and no secure place to put it between classes. This issue was raised
at the last ALISS meeting and received an overwhelming response from
the students in attendance. There was a general agreement that many
students are in need of secure storage space that is also convenient
to access. Lockers in the HUB or in Savery Hall can be rented to any
University of Washington student for $5 - $10 per quarter, but most
iSchool students would rather lug their stuff around than to go all
the way to another building to access secure storage space.
Many other departments
at the University of Washington have secure storage units for graduate
students (and sometimes undergraduate students). Lockers are available
for free to students in the School of Nursing and are automatically
assigned to students at the School of Pharmacy. They are available for
$6 per quarter at the School of Art, $5 a quarter for Mechanical Engineering
students and $7 per quarter for Electrical Engineering students.
without their drawbacks, though. Thompson Hall has lockers on every
floor which are formally available only to students of the Jackson School.
Since there are more lockers than will ever be used by students of the
Jackson School, however, the School's Office of Student Services will
also let students from other departments check out lockers-for free.
These lockers do not come with locks, so students have to bring their
own. The problem? Since the lockers are unlocked when not in use, people
frequently abandon garbage in them or use them to stow their belongings
without permission. This creates a headache for staff when they try
to assign empty lockers to students. A staff member at the Jackson School
admitted that having to keep track of the lockers was "a bit of
Of course not all
lockers have the same problems as those in Thompson Hall. Many are locked
with keys instead of padlocks, and the keys are issued to students once
they pay a deposit fee. These storage units are locked when not in use.
In some departments, lockers are the responsibility of student groups-not
the student services department. Almost all of the other departments
on campus with lockers charge their students a quarterly and/or annual
fee to rent them, which helps to pay for maintaining and keeping track
of the lockers.
Whether or not
lockers conjure up positive or negative memories from high school, the
problem remains: students need a secure place to put their stuff. Many
iSchool students have sore backs and achy joints from carrying around
books and materials for various classes, research projects and extracurricular
activities. When asked if she would use secure storage units if they
were available at the iSchool, Stacy said that she definitely would,
"provided that they were of a size that you could actually fit