FASS News, Students

Improving student access to technology: SFU Libraries, FASS, and Malcolm Toms partner to expand device stations

December 15, 2023
Malcolm Toms is proud of the positive impact BYOD stations have for SFU students.

“The students were asking for these.” Gwen Bird, SFU Dean of Libraries, sees on a daily basis how students move through and occupy space in the library. On many occasions, students would sit down at a traditional desktop computer station and unplug everything to make space for their personal devices. 

Rather than see this as a nuisance, Bird recognized the demand for a different set-up that better accommodated student needs. 

Along with her colleague, Associate Dean of Libraries Natalie Gick, they surveyed students and responses were overwhelmingly in favour of a dual monitor set up, with USB-C and HDMI cables to connect, and power bars for charging. SFU Libraries responded with exactly that. Welcomingly-named BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) stations, several were installed at the W.A.C Bennett Library on Burnaby campus. The demand was there, so the library responded, and SFU students benefitted.

But with a growing student body, more stations are always appreciated. Enter Malcolm Toms, self-proclaimed bibliophile, lover of libraries, and recently retired IT staff member from SFU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS).

Gwen Bird, Melek Ortabasi, Malcolm Toms, Natalie Gick at the Bennett Library.

Always with a smile and affable demeanour, Toms spent nearly 40 years traversing around Burnaby campus, helping faculty members and staff with their myriad of technical needs and issues. When he retired in early 2020, Toms set up the Malcolm Toms Technology Grant, with the intention of carrying on his passion to help people through efficient technology use. 

When the opportunity arose to address students’ need for more BYOD stations, the Toms grant was matched by FASS Dean, Laurel Weldon, doubling the amount of accessible money. This opened the doors to achieve something that wasn’t previously possible: adding BYOD stations to the libraries at SFU’s Surrey and Vancouver campuses. 

“Student access to technology, this is it.”

- Gwen Bird, SFU Dean of Libraries

Now unifying all three SFU campuses with these ultra-helpful resources, Toms met with librarians Gwen Bird and Natalie Gick, as well as FASS Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programming and Student Experience, Melek Ortabasi, to view the stations at Bennett Library.

Toms exclaimed how happy he is that the money is being put to good use, adding that anything that brings students and libraries together is a beautiful thing.

While funded by the Malcolm Toms Technology Grant and FASS, all SFU students from any faculty or program are invited to use the stations.

Find the BYOD stations