Library officials want to have the system ready immediately after fall break
Can you hear me now?
Probably not if you’re in one of the lower levels of the Thomas Cooper Library, but that could change soon.
Library officials say they want to install an application system that will enable cellphone reception for the library’s underground levels — which currently receive spotty to no signal. The current plan is to install the system over fall break.
“We’ve heard over the years that students would like to have cellphone reception downstairs,” said Mary Horton, the library’s administrative services director.
Officials had initially resisted the idea because they were concerned cellphone service would boost noise on the library’s “quiet floors,” designed for private studying.
“But now with the concern over the act of shooters or of other events that use the Carolina text alarm system, we know that it’s something students need to have access to,” Horton said.
The repeater system, equipped with an antenna outside the building that will pull cellphone signals downstairs, will cost between $3,500 and $7,000. The system will then amplify and radiate these signals around the building so cellphones can pick up coverage, according to the library’s systems department interim Director Randy Heard.
Level two currently has a system for only library employees; it is not equipped to serve the entire floor.
“We tried it as a model, and then we realized that a lot of people need cellphone coverage,” Heard said.
Currently, the library is considering a North Carolina company it has worked with in the past. The company provides similar products for the United States military at Fort Jackson. .
“You just have to find the right company that can come in and give us a quote,” Heard said. “We know it’s feasible; we just got to get it to work.”
He stressed the system needs to be set up for safety matters.
“For active shooters or whatever else that could happen. You can never tell. And everyone has a cellphone,” Heard said.
Dillon Sease, a second-year biology student, said it would be better if the library gets this new service-providing upgrade.
“It sucks not having service,” he said. “It’s aggravating because people will text me and I won’t get it for hours.”
First-year electrical engineering student Mohammed Alsulaiman said he thinks it is important for the library to have the service upgrade.
“We need something to support the signal,” said Alsulaiman, who studies at the library every day. “Even though we’re studying, we need to be connected.”
When the system is finally complete, students can just go down to the lower floors as usual without having to adjust their phones. Horton just wants to make sure that they still follow the rules and only use cellphones in designated areas.
“We do ask, when we get this system set up, that students will be respectful of the quiet floors and go to the designated cellphone alcoves,” she said.