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Archive for Thursday, February 5, 2009

At your service: KU Info sets up shop in heart of campus

KU Info worker Jack Connor, a KU senior from Overland Park, helps KU freshman Erica Keefer, of Dallas, on Wednesday at the newly renovated KU Info booth on Jayhawk Boulevard.

KU Info worker Jack Connor, a KU senior from Overland Park, helps KU freshman Erica Keefer, of Dallas, on Wednesday at the newly renovated KU Info booth on Jayhawk Boulevard.

February 5, 2009

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At your service: KU Info sets up shop in heart of campus

Before the Internet, KU Info was one of the best sources to find information regarding anything you needed to know. Enlarge video

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Jack Connor admits he gets weird stares from his friends who see him encased in a small booth off Jayhawk Boulevard between Stauffer-Flint and Bailey halls.

The Overland Park senior works for KU Info and has been assigned to a new on-campus location twice a week since the question-and-answer service expanded its options this semester.

“I don’t think most people realize it’s here,” he said.

But there it sits, a small blue “KU Info” sign resting in the lower-right corner of one of the windows being the only immediate way to recognize just what it is the person sitting inside is doing.

KU Info has been a fixture of the campus for years and is known for providing help to callers on a wide range of topics, from how to locate Burt Hall to how to register a car in Rhode Island.

The service has previously answered about 200 questions a day by phone, Facebook, e-mail and in person at a desk on the fourth floor of the Kansas Union, said Curtis Marsh, KU Info program director.

But, as far as he can tell, the Jayhawk Boulevard booth has sat vacant for decades.

So far, the reaction has been positive, once people figure out what exactly is going on inside the booth, Marsh said. “Basically the reaction has been something like, ‘I’ve never seen a person in there before,’” Marsh said. “One person came up and asked, ‘Are you guys some kind of art project?’”

Though the booth was once used for dispensing information, Marsh said this is the first time KU Info has used it since the service began in the early 1970s.

After talking with previous directors of KU Info, and researching old newspaper articles, the most recent mention he can find of someone using the booth is from 1974, when someone staffed the booth in the evenings to provide safety and information for people looking to call a taxi or waiting for the bus.

A recent renovation project added phone and Internet wiring to the booth, which also has heating and air-conditioning.

The more than $50,000 project was funded jointly by KU Info, the University Daily Kansan, Student Senate and the Provost’s Office, Marsh said. He said he increased his staff from 12 to 20 to accommodate staffing the new location.

Now, the renovation is mostly complete, save for a flat-screen television that will be added in coming weeks on the west side of the booth to deliver additional information to students.

KU Info has also added a text messaging system this semester to increase the number of ways to contact the service.

“The goal is, for each student, to connect with them the way they communicate with each other,” Marsh said.

Connor said the first person he helped in the new location was a blind man who seemed lost. Connor said he opened the glass window and asked whether he could help, and then provided directions to Stouffer Place Apartments.

“I think once it gets established and is more in people’s minds,” it will be used more often, Connor said. “It’s just right in the middle of campus.”

Comments

OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years, 8 months ago

In 1983 we called KU Info in the middle of the night and asked if there were Gummy Bears sold in the Union. They guy put us on hold, ran down to the 4th floor to look at the closed snack bar, came back and told us "Yes". They had encyclopedias and dictionaries, etc. It was a lifesaver back then.

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zissou 5 years, 8 months ago

Good, so now I can walk to the middle of campus to have some sophomore from Leawood type my question into Google instead of doing it myself. Fantastic. Actually, I think KU Info has been pulling one over on us for years. The old "How many trees are on campus?" and "Which campus building is the largest?" questions never die.

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volunteer 5 years, 8 months ago

Not an absurd waste of money like the Provost for Promotion of Diversity.

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Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years, 8 months ago

KU Info is a good thing. Without it, what sould zissou complain about?

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bombshell 5 years, 8 months ago

I hear that KU Info roll-a-dex (sp?) they have is pretty awesome and has answers to random questions clear back to the 80s.... apparently one of them answers the question "how many human heads would it take to fill up allen fieldhouse?".... pertinent information like that should be easily accessible from a guy in a booth in the center of campus.

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jackconnor1 5 years, 8 months ago

Zissou, I am actually a senior from Overland Park, not a sophomore from Leawood.

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fabian_zimbabwe 5 years, 8 months ago

I remember at freshman orientation back in (gasp) 1986, the first thing they had us write down was the number for KU Info: 864-3506. Is that still the same number today?

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MaryKatesPillStash 5 years, 8 months ago

Fabian, that is indeed the number. KU Info receives several phone calls a day from people who may not have used the service in years, but still remember that phone number.

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KSChick1 5 years, 8 months ago

xd40-that's your opinion, not fact. You don't have to take out all that debt to make it through school, and if you do take out debt, you should know it's just like a credit card. It's all fun and games spending the money but the bill is going to come due some day. If you borrow thousands and thousands of dollars for school, you have to start paying it back within 6 months of not being in school anymore. You know it when you sign the loan papers.

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KSChick1 5 years, 8 months ago

and what your comment and link have to do with KU INFO is beyond me. Maybe I'll call and ask if they can make any sense of your thought processes.

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spankyandcranky 5 years, 8 months ago

It would have been helpful for the article to include KU Info's phone number, e-mail, etc. I'd contact them a lot more if I could remember their number. When I first moved here I was 20 and knew no one. I moved here for work, not school, but was told the phone number and found it very helpful. I'm glad to see someone put the phone number in their comment. I will post it prominently by my phone :-) Sadly, I can't think of any tricks to help me remember that evasive number! I guess now I can go up to the little booth and ask the number if I forget ... if only I were a student and knew where those two residence halls were ...

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