HBLL’s free software training lab considered BYU’s ‘best kept secret’

Sylvia Magleby is a software training employee in the HBLL’s free software training lab. She is at the consultant desk in the media center helping answer students’ questions when she isn’t teaching. (Maddi Driggs)

The library can be more than a study spot or a place to get a good book. On the fourth floor of the Harold B. Lee Library (HBLL) software classes are available free of charge to the BYU community.

The Software Training Lab is located in room 4840 of the Media Center and offers training for students, staff, faculty and family members with the opportunity to expand their knowledge. Instruction is given on a variety of subjects ranging from Adobe Photoshop to Microsoft Excel to 3D Design and Printing. Members can find a class setting that works best for their needs because the lab offers both individual and group training.

Caleb Thompson, an information systems major, had a desire to develop skills that could prove useful in his personal life and his field of study. After taking a couple of classes and enjoying them, he decided to enroll in all of them and has found them especially useful.

“I’ve always been around art and designing but I’d never really done much graphic design. But through the classes and projects that I did, I was able to build my skills and get a job doing graphic design for the advisement center for the Family Home and Social Sciences college on campus,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he believes many students aren’t aware of these classes offered in the library but thinks that these training courses often help students in their class assignments, providing them with skills that add creativity to their work. He recommends joining the trainings with a purpose, such as a project which needs to be completed using certain software, so students can get the most out of the class.

“Students are in fields where they’re going to need training. A lot of classes don’t offer training so they come to us,” said Sam Jackson, a student employee who helps provide software training.

Jackson is a psychology major but acquired many of his software skills in high school. He follows in the footsteps of his older brother who held the same job and recommended Jackson try it. Jackson is just one of many software training employees who teach classes in the Media Center.

Library Instruction Coordinator Suzanne Julian said class slots fill up quickly because students enjoy the crash course structure in which they are taught. She invites students to make use of this service in high demand.

“When students get into a project, they want quick help. The Media Center offers that in a controlled environment,” Julian said.

Sylvia Magleby, a training employee in the lab, said she believes classes fill up quickly at the start of the semester because of students’ lighter workload compared to the rest of the semester. This extra time allows them to make time for training classes.

“Right now, we still have several seats available in some of our classes . . . The ones to fill up fastest are the Adobe Suite programs, especially Photoshop and Illustrator. Many students are keen to learn those programs because they are so useful for both school and personal purposes,” Magleby said. 

She suggests that anyone interested in those courses sign up in advance or risk missing out. Signing up as late as the day of the class is acceptable as long as spots are open.

Magleby calls the Software Training Lab “BYU’s best kept secret,” although she’s unsure why that’s the case. Despite countless advertisements on campus, many people are unaware of what the lab is and what it has to offer.

Software Instruction Supervisor Jed Johnston enjoys having people come in and make use of the photo and video equipment available in addition to software training. He mentions that upon opening this service to the campus community, the library didn’t always offer certain courses.

“It started with OIT, who handed their classes over to the library, allowing us to add even more courses like Microsoft,” Johnston said.

Johnston said he believes the library should always be a source of free knowledge.

“Whenever something is offered in the library, (they) usually try to make it free. The only charge is filament for 3D printing,” Johnston said.

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