The Mary Idema Pew Library has just announced it’s ready to unveil brand new “deluxe library services” to the entire student body at GVSU. In beta for the past year, the new services offered by the library are finally ready for full student use, according to the librarians. These services include access to larger, more comprehensive databases of questionable legality, connections to satellites and sealed archives, higher-quality tutors to review papers, speeches, and projects, therapy sessions during exam weeks, and freshly-baked protein bars along with morning yoga. However, after talking with some of the librarians, The Black Sheep thought it’d be best to outline the issues we felt readers ought to be aware of right away.
To access the deluxe library services, students must wear a tracking device. The trackers are bracelets students can buy for $60 at the entrance. These devices not only track the wearer’s physical location within the library (or on campus, or anywhere in the world for that matter), but they also monitor heart rate, count steps taken, measure blood alcohol levels, and even have timers to remind students when to return to studying.
In addition to tracker bracelets, each student must consent to a full and thorough background check. This includes a look through for criminal records, but also looks through your medical history, family tree, and even through all of your social media sites. Librarians claim this is for everyone’s protection to ensure no one sends information regarding the library’s design to people who might use it for nefarious plots—something that could threaten the safety of everyone by turning these technologies against us.
There have been reports of the disappearing of seven students and two assistant professors who’ve spoken out against the library’s deluxe package. No one has seen any trace of ”The Grand Valley Nine” in Grand Rapids or in any of their hometowns. The only thing these nine have in common is documented distrust of the library’s power.
One of those missing was a sophomore, Corey Maxson. According to Maxson’s friend (who wishes to remain anonymous), Maxson “questioned, openly and loudly in the library, the necessity of the trackers and whether they infringed upon some fundamental personal and student rights.” This took place not 24 hours before his disappearance.
Another incident involved Professor Wister, who wrote an article on her blog expressing her concern over an authoritarian, sentient building being the center of campus. Links to the article have been removed, and the account associated with it deactivated not very long after it was published.
With these odd happenings surrounding the library’s new services, we caution The Black Sheep readers to stay aware. The library’s deluxe services may, in fact, be just a way for students to get more out of the college experience. However there seems to be no effort to change the problems that have come up with the new services, and we cannot afford to be blinded by how new and helpful they are, given the immense danger and risk involved. We cannot forget how pervasive and controlling such technology can become if we allow it to go beyond its intended purpose. We must all try to monitor ourselves and others to ensure our safety.