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Computer Availability Map


ca_initial.pngA Spring 2011 survey of UW Oshkosh students revealed that when students head to a campus computer lab, 77% consider the "likelihood that there will be a computer available".  Polk Library makes available around one hundred desktop computers throughout the library, including Polk 101's recent renovation with student input to support both individual and group work.  Despite these desktops and the 20 circulating laptops available for students to borrow, students often enter a single busy room and leave without realizing all of the computers currently available elsewhere in the building.

In 2011 a STEP student developer at Polk Library developed a mobile website that listed the counts of currently available resources in each major computer area throughout the library.  Polk Library also developed web services to spread this information to other campus portals, including the MyUWO Student Portal and the iOS and Android campus mobile applications.  However as a text-only display, it was still difficult to find a few available computers scattered around the 40+ in Polk 101.  Based on further student input, another STEP student intern in 2013 developed a touch-friendly, graphical Computer Availability Map.

ca_zoom.pngThe initial screen displays a map of the entire library, with summary availability information for available computers in each wing of Polk Library.  Students can click or touch an individual wing to zoom into a detailed map of individual computers in their approximate actual locations.  Red and green icons indicate current availability.  Students can filter to view Macs or PCs only, and can also see locations of public scanners, printers and other commonly used equipment.

Computer Availability is powered by a login- and logout-hook on each computer, which calls a central web service to register the appropriate event.  No information other than computer name and login vs. logout is sent; there is no user-identifiable activity.  The graphical map display is built in HTML5 Canvas, for graphics which scale well on various mobile displays, and JQuery.  The web service back-end is Python-based and integrated into the library's Plone website, with MySQL for data storage.

Thanks to Academic Computing for deploying the login & logout  hooks in the AC-managed Polk Lab on 1st Floor South.  Thanks to Oregon State University Libraries and NCSU Libraries for design models.





  • Brian Gallops, STEP student developer intern
  • Alejandro Carrasquilla, STEP student developer intern
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