This space is intended to be used as a community technology space, small business support center, and education center. The technologies necessary include desktop computers with monitors and accessories. A printer, copier/scanner/fax machine, and LCD screens are also a strong component of the design plan.
Due to time and financial constraints, we will be able to provide the twelve desktop computers intended in the design, one laptop computer, and a printer. All desktops will be wired to an existing DSL line to provide Internet service. Software as discussed with the owner will be installed and ready for use by patrons. As there is already a smaller computer grouping in the shop next to the cyber café, networking and consistency of programs is also important. Open Office will be installed. Due to financial constraints, no other software will be purchased, but other open source software will be installed. This will include some accounting software intended for small business support. We also have set up a small media center with microphone headsets for listening to or generating multimedia presentations. Our resources did not allow for the purchase of the LCD screens that were hoped for, but one is being donated in the near future. It will be placed on the wall at the back of the room for maximum impact. Also, information regarding copier leasing has been left with the business owner, but the ultimate lease or purchase of this is up to him. He has indicated that, to give the most support to local small businesses, he will lease a color copier with fax and scanning capabilities. Mr. Pirtle anticipates that small business owners will use this for generating brochures or business cards. A wireless access point is also being installed to allow community members to use the internet services on other equipment.
This space, at a minimum, has been a year-long collaboration between the LIS 451 classes and Mr. Pirtle. Renovation of the space had already begun by the beginning of this semester. Because the space could be made a clean slate the design was reasonably unconstrained. Counter desks were built by members of the 451 class under the instruction of Martin Wolske, the originator of the room design. The counter design and installation will be done in such a way to maximize the traffic flow area, minimize visible cables and to minimize cable interference on the floors or across desks. They were further designed to provide sufficient work surfaces for various types of project. One counter, for example, has less usable surface space than others but provides a collaborative work area of four computers for groups where more members need access to a computer. Another counter of the same size will have two computers for collaborative projects that need more room to spread out papers or to allow more face-to-face communication. As discussed previously, the design of the cafe needed to include some collaborative spaces (created by open tables with multiple computers facing each other) as well as private spaces (created by longer tables against the wall, with computers facing the wall and space to work around them). To make a more comfortable community feel, the owner requested that a futon be placed in the space near the entrance to show the space as more than just a computer center. This has been incorporated into the final space. To increase education possibilities in the future, locations around the room have been placed for mounted LCD screens. This will eventually allow screen sharing or a presentation by an instructor or business owner to be seen from any table and computer within the room. By the end of this semester this will be a completed space with fresh paint, all new furniture, and room for expansion of services as resources allow.
Another goal was to make the space self-sustaining financially. Efforts to accomplish this have been made by providing space for a copier, notary services, and a rentable laptop computer. Rental agreements for the laptop and the facility space have been drafted and provided to the owner.
There are a few minor cosmetic items to be completed in the space. Baseboard and trim still needs to be installed, and the wireless access point needs to be installed, otherwise the space is complete and is currently fully functional for its intended community purpose.
Due to the ability to start this space essentially from scratch, room for expansion is already incorporated. Space will be provided to add a desktop copier should the owner choose to invest in one. Mounting locations for multiple LCD screens are in place. It is anticipated that one LCD TV will be donated in the very near future. The counter design will allow for easy upgrade or addition of more computers should it be deemed necessary or the resources become available. Furthermore, the counter design allows for incorporation of space to work with personal laptops, or inclusion of more multimedia systems. Additional switch space for wired connections will also aid in the possible addition of more computers. A wireless access point will aid in the incorporation of more laptops or other technical devices.
Maximizing Outcomes and Impact
While completing the project, many community members came in and inspected the space. They expressed their enthusiasm for the space and its contribution to the community.
Based on the community feedback, the integration of this space will provide a much needed center for technology use in a professional environment. It will greatly expand the services originally provided by the Ice Cream Shop center. The eventual goal of Mr. Pirtle is to provide a strong support center to encourage local small business owners. Providing a location that is inviting, professional, and geographically accessible will go a long way toward accomplishing these goals. Although our financial resources will limit the software that can be provided, through open source software we will be able to provide the same services, just not with the software names that business owners are used to, which might cause some initial concern.
Some items that, due to financial and time constraints, will still need to be completed are the installation of the wireless access point, the lease or purchase of a color copier/fax/scanner, and the purchase or donation of LCD screens.
The scope of this project prevented it from being completed in just one semester. Our group has the privilege of being the final stage and once our portion is completed, the Cyber Cafe should be fully functional by the public.
Project Transition Checklist
Painting and preparation of the space, building and installation of furniture in the space:
Target date for completion, October 30, 2011. Completed by October 30, 2011.
Preparation of computers and installation of software:
Target date for completion, November 29, 2011. Completed November 29, 2011
Final installation of computers:
Target date for completion, December 3, 2011. Completed December 3, 2011