A/V Meets IT
As a result of the partnering program, which brought in not only products and systems but also expertise and training, the Library’s technology budget wasn’t its biggest challenge. That, says York, was reserved for that overlap between A/V and IT. In a reversal of the usual paradigm in which A/V specialists face IT’s networked landscape with some trepidation, it was the library’s IT staff who had to quickly acquire their own A/V chops. The heavy lifting initially was done in conjunction with the A/V systems designer the Sextant Group and A/V systems integrator AVI-SPL, but the systems would need considerable management and maintenance going forward. While the library’s technology complement could be largely fleshed out via the partnering, the facility was coming together in the midst of the worst economy in memory, and state funds for additional staff simply weren’t available. York recalls nicking desktop computers from other sites on campus to get the library up and running (before they decided to move all computing to a centralized server room to make data available through a wider range of devices as part of a virtualization strategy).
“We had to redirect some of our IT people and retrain them for A/V,” he says. “A lot of that was literally on the job, as the manufacturer partners sent trainers in to show us how their systems needed to be set up. We were training as we were installing — Christie had someone on site teaching us how to build the MicroTile walls, and we have people going to Biamp for two weeks of training there. We were an IT shop, we had never had to run A/V on this kind of scale.”
In a sense, training will always be ongoing at the Hunt Library, because its technology partners will use it as a test bed to stretch their own technical envelopes, and see what NC State’s geniuses are doing with it. York says some students have already developed apps that monitor and manage the temperature and other parameters of the Christie video wall system.
“It’s a two-way street, really,” he says. “They’ll have access to what the students and faculty learn about their products. The partners have put a lot into this but they stand to reap some benefits, as well. It’s their sandbox, too.”