Jenn Grimmett sits at her desk, the heart of Elon’s Media Services office. It’s her third year as head of the department, and when asked about the evolution of Media Services, she has a lot to reflect on.
“Have things changed in the running of Media Services year to year? Oh, yeah. Of course they have,” she says. “In more ways than one.”
Media Services, for those who don’t know, is home to a myriad of technical equipment. A host to everything from laptops to film equipment, Media Services is an efficient, easy, and free way to checkout the tools you need, all with the simple tap of a Phoenix card. Media Services is just one of the many perks to being an Elon community member, yet its presence on campus often goes unrecognized. However, after sitting down with Grimmett, it’s clear to see that Media Services has evolved into a fine-tuned machine, and it never stops improving.
Grimmett first stepped onto our hallowed brick paths to take up her new position in the Fall of 2013. Before coming to Elon, she worked in the library of Emmanuel College as an administrative assistant. Grimmett’s responsibilities here include supervising the student employees who staff Media Services, acting as a liaison between the office and clients seeking equipment, and coordinating with event staff to provide any needed materials.
“What makes media services kinda interesting is that there are two different parts of it. We have the front facing piece, which is the check out center, and then the back facing piece which is event technology support. They’re both under the umbrella of Media Services,” she explains. “When I came in Fall of 2013, it was the first year we integrated both sides of operation into one unit.”
All Hands on Deck
It’s obvious that the 22 student workers who run Media Services day to day are important to Grimmett. Throughout our discussion, it was common for her to peek over the walls of her cubicle to engage with them. “Stop fooling around! Can’t you see I’m doing an interview?” she frequently joked. But besides forging solid relationships in the office, the student staff spend their spare hours researching the equipment they are responsible for in order to provide a better service to the school. The knowledge of the employees, according to Grimmett, has seen vast improvements, and it is a development she has used to transform Media Services.
“We have transitioned from having only employees that can check things out. We now also have really talented technicians,” says Grimmett. “The expectation now is that anybody working at the desk can make recommendations based on the clients’ articulated needs. That has changed remarkably.”
Grimmett then went on to add that the student employees haven’t just bettered their technological know-how. They have also become much more passionate about the work they do.
“The employees…want to help people. There’s a service part [to working in Media Services] which is very important to the Elon culture. I’ve worked to make sure it’s an integrated and important part of our process.”
The Newest Technical Upgrades
In terms new equipment, Grimmett states that the office is on a constant state of updating. Among new tools that Media Services is offering to student and staff are an LED lighting kit, a high end DSLR camera known as the Canon T5I, which features a video component, and a series of advanced sound systems. Grimmett claims that the , and she’s pretty excited about them.
“We have Stage Pass systems, which are powerful speakers that offer a mixer which allows you to plug in instruments. They’re used a lot by org events and faculty sponsored pieces. Or, people will be doing a local performance over at Oak House and so they’ll come over and grab equipment. It’s nice because musicians don’t have to figure how to buy this stuff. They have access to it,” Grimmett proudly explains. “We’ve also done a lot of deep assessment on running speakers on battery. If you have it charged up, musicians can take it out to the middle of Young Commons and go for it.”
This highlights the goal that Media Services has always maintained–to offer equipment which will give faculty and students the chance to learn and grow creatively. The department is currently working to connect cameras with a time lapse component to those doing research and analysis in Elon’s science center, but Grimmett also says to those who are working on creative and personal projects, “Come and get it.”
“We’ve also been able to find ways to use the Go-Pro, where it can be used for experiential journaling. I had a student over J-Term who took the camera out with him to do video journaling of his experience on an alternative spring break, and then he presented with it,” Grimmett disclosed. “To be able to help students think about that translation while earning a grade is kinda cool.”
Under Jenn Grimmett, Media Services is adapting in terms of the equipment they’re offering, the projects they’re undertaking, and the staff responsible for their processes. Their resources are more than worth taking advantage of academically and creatively.
When asked to give a few words to students who may be unaware of Media Services and its value, Grimmett had this to say: “Top three reasons to come in here and have at it: One, there’s a lot of cool stuff in here. Two, if you’re not doing something academic, but rather, personally creative, come get what you need. It offers the chance for people to get a little more creative. Three, everyone is paying for this resource, come and get it, and don’t pay.”