Library's New 'Media Wall' Brings the World to University Community

February 14, 2008
February 14, 2008 — University of Virginia students and faculty can now watch foreign news at Alderman Library.

The media wall, a bank of four wall-mounted television sets, has the capability to pull in satellite feeds of more than 80 foreign channels, from Al-Jazeera to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

"We want to bring the outside world onto Grounds," said Leigh B. Grossman, vice provost of international affairs and chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases, who spearheaded the project. "We prefer to have it unfiltered and unedited by CNN, Fox and the CBC. We want the students to see the news from a non-American perspective. Our students are bright and they are capable of making their own decisions."

Grossman and Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., the University's executive vice president and provost, will officially open the media wall with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 10:30 a.m. Grossman said the Jefferson Trust at the U.Va. Alumni Association, which funded the media wall, will also be represented.

On a recent afternoon, the four sets were tuned to an Indian station broadcasting in Hindi, Al-Jazeera broadcasting in Arabic, a Polish station and Korean news station, said Grossman, who noted that the media wall should benefit language students.

"It is also a nice addition to welcome international students who can now watch news from their home country," she said.

Library patrons can monitor the television sets through wireless headphones, available at the circulation desk, along with program guides and remote control units.

"Alderman's Memorial Hall is such a busy hub of activity for students and faculty with the Alderman Café, Internet access and library staff on hand for assistance," said Diane Walker, deputy university librarian. "We're quite intrigued to see the media wall's effect here as a part of the University's effort to increase international study and awareness."

The library has contracted with Dish Network to purchase all of its international news and cultural programming, including news, talk shows, sports and movies. Closed captioning is available on some of the channels, but it is usually in the language of the broadcast. Grossman said U.S. channels have been blocked from the system, so students can only tune into foreign broadcasts.

Grossman said students can access foreign media through the Internet, but television gives it more immediacy.

"They can pull up stories from the Times of India, but not necessarily Indian television stations," she said.