The aim of the Portal is part of Cornell University library’s vision “to bring the world to Cornell,” according to Gerard Beasley, university librarian.

Courtesy of Cornell University

The aim of the Portal is part of Cornell University library’s vision “to bring the world to Cornell,” according to Gerard Beasley, university librarian.

August 27, 2018

Library Portal Connects Cornell With Students From Across the World

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p class=”p1″>Cornellians returning from their summer breaks to the Arts Quad quickly flocked to the newly installed Portal, a shipping container equipped with immersive technology that allows “life-size skype” on campus with someone across the world.

Located outside of Olin Library on the side of the Arts Quad, the gold-painted Portal invites participants to “come face-to-face with someone in a distant Portal … as if in the same room,” according to the contraption’s website. It offers students an opportunity to speak in real-time with “people from many different backgrounds, experiences, and parts of the world.”

The aim of the Portal, a pilot program running from Aug. 23 to early November, is part of Cornell University library’s vision “to bring the world to Cornell,” according to Gerard Beasley, university librarian.

The Portal has been a huge success from the very beginning with positive reviews. There has been “a lot of feedback because we have a book outside the portal which we invite students or anybody else to write in,” Beasley said. “There’s a lot of comments that begin with things like ‘awesome,’ ‘cool.’”

“It’s been up for a few days […] we’ve already had 500 visitors. Most of those are walk-in and mostly students,” Beasley told The Sun.

The Cornell University Library offers students the option to walk-in or schedule a visit to the Portal. However, Beasley added that students who hope to talk with residents of a particular city — like Berlin, Tehran, or Nairobi — should schedule their visits beforehand to increase the likelihood that they will meet students from their desired location.

The Cornell University Library is “committed to making the obvious point that the world actually isn’t that big, we should really learn how to communicate across differences [and] that students, the community at large, take advantage of having a portal in Ithaca,” Beasley said.

While students are welcomed to come individually or in groups, the small container starts feeling crowded with five or six people inside, according to Beasley. Attendees should expect a 20-minute stay within the portal.