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Learning Resource Center opens

January 19, 2000|By BRUCE HAMILTON

When students return to Hagerstown Community College Monday, many of them will use for the first time a new $7-million building that features high-tech lecture halls and an expanded library.

The Learning Resource Center is the newest addition to campus, a gleaming glass-and-brick structure standing at the end of Academic Boulevard. In some ways it is a showcase of new technology applied to education.

Fiber optic cables run through the building, allowing students to access a computer network from classrooms and the library. Professors will be able to use computers built into lecterns and project any image onto automatic screens.

The LRC is the only "full fiber" building in the county, according to Director of Facilities, Management and Planning Phillip Snodderly. HCC is the only community college in the state that has one, he said.

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Other buildings have fiber "backbones," creating a less direct computer network. Using switches instead of hubs improves access, allowing individual computers to communicate directly.

"It's like directing water in one direction rather than flooding the whole area," said Snodderly. The building will have 670 data ports in walls and classroom tables as well as under tables in the library.

The college bought 300 Dell computers for use in the building's two computer labs, library and classrooms. In some classrooms, they are installed with monitors within the desk, visible through a plastic cover.

The lighting is fully automated and controlled by computers that turn on automatically when one enters a classroom and shut off if no one is present.

They can be set to turn off at a given time and will blink in warning so that a professor or student can press a button and keep them on. Some rooms have dimmers. The LRC also has a production studio.

The building is completely handicapped accessible. The bathrooms have low, wide sinks with automatic faucets.

Overhead speakers line the ceilings in classrooms. Much of the furniture was built by inmates, either in Hagerstown or Salisbury, through State Use Industry.

Construction of the building cost about $6.9 million, a bargain according to Snodderly. "We really did our research," he said.

The state contributed about 63 percent of the funds and the remaining 37 percent came from the county.

The LRC is three floors using 37,000 square feet of its gross 58,000 square feet. Vaulted ceilings, a skylight and extensive windows promote an open atmosphere.

The William M. Brish library on the second floor offers a panoramic view of the campus. It is open to the public.

The building will be dedicated in a ceremony on the weekend of April 29.

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