Tag Archives: Scholars Commons

$21,718 Raised! Thank You!

A thankful student.

Thank you for supporting the University of Texas Libraries during the 40 Hours for the Forty Acres campaign!

We are excited to report that we received 101 gifts raising a total of $21,718.

Your gift will have a meaningful impact on all students across campus. For students, using the libraries is part of their trajectory of success in college; whether it is utilizing our collections for research, or tapping resources like the Undergraduate Writing Center, Think Space, our Scholars Commons facility, or our state-of-the-art collaborative spaces and technology labs.

We couldn’t have done it without you!

See one of the ways your gift impacts student success in the video below.

Forging Ahead with The Foundry

3D Printing at a maker event.
3D printing at a maker event.

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”

Those words of Thomas Edison are representative of a sentiment that is increasingly reflected in the way that libraries are evolving to meet modern needs. In a departure from the traditional notion as a place where people go to simply gather information, the modern library is becoming a vibrant space where knowledge is partnered with tools that allow users to immediately synthesize ideas into creative output.

The University of Texas Libraries have, in recent years, been working with campus partners and administrators to reimagine spaces to meet these new expectations, and the results have been worth noting. The opening of the Learning Commons on the entry level of the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL) provides students with onsite support for writing projects through a partnership with the University Writing Center, and a substantial new Media Lab offers users the opportunity to create the kind of dynamic multimedia projects that are gradually replacing project papers as a measure of student understanding. The Scholars Commons — opened earlier this spring, also in PCL — provides a space for both isolated study and cross-discipline collaboration, and includes a Data Lab for greater capacity for complex data visualization, making synthesis of information possible within arm’s reach of essential resources.

From a Libraries' maker event.
From a Libraries’ maker event.

With the launch of the new undergraduate major in the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies (CAET) announced in February by the College of Fine Arts (COFA), the Libraries are partnering with the college to develop a new kind of creative space in the Fine Arts Library (FAL) to support the specialized needs of students in the new program. “The Foundry” will occupy space in the main level of the FAL, and will consist of a series of interconnected studios designed to support audio recording, video production, fabrication, 3D printing, animatronics, game design and fiber arts where students can gather to create independently or collaboratively, and where they’ll have immediate access to traditional library resources and services to augment their work. Although it was developed primarily to support CAET, The Foundry is open to every student at the university.

The focus of the space redevelopment is to provide advanced technological systems for all aspects of performance, game development, music production, digital visual arts, and other forms of digital entertainment. The project is funded by the Office of the Provost, the Libraries, the College of Fine Arts and by a generous grant from the Hearst Foundations.

From a Libraries' maker event.
From a Libraries’ maker event.

It’s not quite Menlo Park (yet), but libraries are finding ways to become a larger part of the creative process by providing the materials and tools that allow ideas the potential to be realized at the point of conception. Edison might even be impressed.

Construction on The Foundry began with the close of the spring semester and is slated to open in time for the students’ return in the fall. Check back for progress reports on the renovation throughout the summer.

40 Hours for the Forty Acres

40 Hours for the Forty AcresWith 650,000 square feet across ten libraries on campus, UT Libraries has one of the largest footprints on the Forty Acres. To put into context, imagine yourself cheering the longhorns at Darrell K. Royal stadium, then imagine eleven football fields filled with books, reference materials, silent and collaborative study spaces, and technology.

We’re proud of our impact. In 2015, UT Libraries welcomed an astounding 2,492,477 visitors. Our staff provided 105,986 reference sessions for students and faculty. We welcomed 15,329 attendees to Library Instruction Sessions. We hosted the equivalent of 25 home games at full capacity.

The rapid pace of change in academic libraries has been breathtaking, but thanks to gifts both and large and small we were able to renovate about half of a football field worth of library space.

But make no mistake, it’s not about new furniture. An investment in UT Libraries is an investment in helping elevate retention and graduation rates. Your gift has the potential to touch the lives of every student, faculty, and staff member on the Forty Acres.

Our Think Space initiative is about creating a stimulating, supportive, and collaborative environment that enhances student and faculty success. Think Space is a one-stop-hub that connects students with campus experts in research, writing, speech, and digital media technology.

The Scholars Commons pilot has quickly become a favorite spot for students and other scholars. The Scholars Commons inspires scholarship through research consultations. It contains a data lab with advanced software; workshops introducing tools for digital scholarship, data analysis, and scholarly communication; spaces for collaboration; and exhibits and events that provide opportunities for scholars to share their research.

Contributions designated for the Black Diaspora Archival Collection will help fund professional development for the archivist, interns/graduate research assistants who assist with processing, the general enhancement of this collection. The Black Diaspora Archive is a vitally important initiative, which affirms the University’s commitment to Black history, and to the communities across the Americas who make that history.

Now in its third year, 40 Hours for the Forty Acres is an annual university-wide, 40-hour fundraising event designed to engage and inspire students, alumni, and friends to donate. If UT Libraries is meaningful to you, we hope you will make a gift between April 27th 4:00am and April 28th 8:00pm.

We encourage you to tell your friends about the campaign, post on social media when you give, or repost our messages from the blog during the campaign.

Give Here

Scholars Commons Opens in PCL

Data Lab in the new Scholars Commons at PCL.
Data Lab in the new Scholars Commons at PCL.

The Scholars Commons, a UT Libraries pilot initiative introducing new spaces and approaches to research and data lifecycle support at UT Austin, opens on Wednesday, January 20 at noon. Located on entry level of the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL), it features space for silent study, a Data Lab, an exhibit area and a Graduate Landing Spot with a suite of study rooms exclusively for graduate student use.

Aesthetically compelling and functional in design, the Scholars Commons is a dynamic intellectual environment for scholars at all levels engaged in serious study.  It is a gateway to a suite of services provided by the UT Libraries and campus partners to facilitate academic inquiry and scholarship, connecting scholars with librarians and with each other.  UT Libraries subject librarians are available by appointment to consult on resources, scholarly publishing, research data management, and digital scholarship, and will provide workshops along with other experts from Learning Sciences and the University Writing Center.

Scholars Commons.
Group Study Room in the Scholars Commons.

Last spring, UTL librarians conducted focus groups with graduate students and faculty to learn more about their research and writing needs, and received survey input from over 1,100 graduate students and faculty.  The Scholars Commons bring to life the spaces and services informed by these members of the UT Austin research enterprise.

The silent study area of the Scholars Commons offers a tranquil place for scholars to focus fully and reflect on their work without distractions. Researchers will be close to UTL’s robust collections and the expertise of service providers at the Research Help & Check Out desk.  Study tables, comfortable chairs, and abundant outlets make it easy to drop in for a few minutes or stay for an entire afternoon of productive work. This area will be a unique UTL space on campus in that it is designated as a completely silent study area.

Scholars Commons.
Group Study Room in the Scholars Commons.

Graduate students wanted a place for networking with their colleagues that would be flexible for a variety of needs and the Graduate Landing Spot in the Scholars Commons is a home for graduate students within PCL. Students can swipe their UT ID cards to enter a suite adjacent to the silent study area comprised of four technology-equipped group study rooms that may be reserved online, a lounge for heating and enjoying meals, and a general purpose study and networking area. This space is open to graduate students of all disciplines.

Part of the pilot will include an increased focus on digital scholarship and the digital humanities. A Data Lab with 15 dual-boot iMacs allows UTL to offer access to high-end statistical analysis software, like SPSS and SAS, for the first time. The Lab can accommodate small classes and library workshops. Faculty interested in bringing a class to the lab to use the software can contact scholarscommons@austin.utexas.edu.

Scholars Commons.
Graduate Landing Spot in the Scholars Commons.

The Scholars Commons initiative will also highlight and promote UT scholarship in the form of events and rotating exhibits. The first exhibit in the space, Crafting Art and Geology: The Publications of Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877-1947), was curated by Dr. Janice Leoshko from the Department of Art and Art History and Department of Asian Studies. The Scholars Commons will also host lectures and seminars to share the world-class research that is being done at UT.

The Scholars Commons is a pilot project. Librarians and UTL staff will be soliciting feedback from users and taking note of the ways that scholars use the space, including what works and what doesn’t. Come by PCL for the opening event or to investigate the Scholars Commons to find your place for exploration and innovation within the Libraries.

Data Lab Coming to PCL

Conceptual Gears.

A new lab is coming to PCL as part of the Scholars Commons, opening in January 2016. The Data Lab will have 15 dual-boot iMacs capable of running Windows and Mac OS. Based on the results of a campus-wide survey of graduate students and faculty conducted last spring, the pilot lab will have software for statistical analysis, data visualization, and text encoding. Users will also have access to a UT Libraries-installed instance of Omeka and other web-based tools for digital scholarship. In addition to the new types of software, look for workshops on digital scholarship tools and methods throughout the spring semester.

The Data Lab will be a pilot space. We’re especially interested in your feedback about what works and what doesn’t so that we can provide the software that you need.

Software available in the Data Lab will include:

  • Adobe Creative Suite 6
  • Autodesk Design Suite (free educational version)
  • NVivo
  • Omeka
  • Oxygen XML
  • R
  • SAS
  • SPSS
  • Stata/MP
  • Sublime Text
  • Tableau Public

The lab will also offer standard office productivity apps.

The Scholars Commons, located on the entry of level of PCL, will offer silent study space to facilitate studying, space exclusively for graduate students to take a break, refresh, or meet with a group of colleagues and a Data Lab.

Have a project or idea that you think might be a perfect match for the Data Lab? Let us know! Contact Jenifer Flaxbart.

Scholars Commons Pilot “Sneak Preview”

Attendees see conceptual slides for the future Scholars Commons.

The Libraries held a Kick-off event on September 16 to share design renderings of a new academic work space in the Perry-Castaneda Library called the Scholars Commons that will be piloted on entry level starting early next year.

My colleagues and I had the great opportunity to welcome attendees into an empty room behind yellow paper-covered windows to share a “before” glimpse of what the UT Libraries hopes will become a favorite place on campus for graduate students and scholars.

Scheduled to open in January 2016, this “third space” for serious study is a pilot project to test services and different types of spaces.

The Scholars Commons initiative is comprised of 3 main areas:

  • silent study space,
  • a Data Lab, and
  • a Graduate Landing Spot, with reservable media-equipped rooms, a lounge and a break room.

Design development for the space was informed by input from graduate student and faculty focus groups and a survey with over 1,200 respondents conducted last spring. Additional insights came from the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), the Graduate Student Writing Group and Graduate Student Services within OGS. The design was created by Harmony Edwards-Canfield of E+MID (Edwards + Mulhausen Interior Design), also responsible for several successful recently completed PCL projects.

Situated opposite the new glass-walled Media Lab, in what was formerly the Periodicals Room and the adjacent office suites that housed the Research and Information Services department, the Scholars Commons is tangible, visible evidence of support for serious students and scholars.

The materials in that space were relocated elsewhere within PCL, and the staff relocated to a UT Libraries office suite in the new Learning Commons, next to the University Writing Center. As with space used to create the Learning Commons, the Scholars Commons project represents intentional repurposing of staff space for student use.

The office suite closest to the PCL lobby will host speech center services provided by the Sanger Learning Center and research consultations in media-equipped meeting rooms with UT Libraries librarians. When not reserved for consultations, the rooms will be available for group study use by students.

Subject specialist librarians, or liaison librarians, already work one-to-one or in small groups with students and faculty to advise on literature reviews, research paper resources, data needs and other aspects of the research process and lifecycle, including publishing. These refreshed rooms will expand existing consultation space.

The large room that once housed the current periodicals and reference materials will become silent study space. And the office suite in the back of that room will be a dedicated Graduate Landing Spot for group study and informal community building.

The Scholars Commons will also offer programming, including salon events with featured speakers, research presentations and exhibit space. In brief, the pilot focuses on real-life needs, real-world challenges, research and relationships.

Lorraine Haricombe with representatives of Graduate Studies.Kick-off participants enjoyed locally-sourced refreshments and live music by Maxwell’s Daemons, a celebratory nod to the soon-to-be-silent zone for scholarly endeavor.

Brianna Frey, an Architecture graduate student in attendance, expressed that the quality and amenities of a study area are important because productivity stems from the ability to focus. “Additionally, it is important, especially because my field has a lot of group work, to have collaborative spaces in study areas” Frey told the Daily Texan. The pilot will offer both options.

Monitor this blog and UT Libraries social media outlets for more details as the January reveal approaches.