O’Neill Library Develops New Digital Studio On Second Floor

In an effort to replace and concentrate the resources formerly housed in the Campus Technology Resource Center (CTRC), Boston College Libraries and Information Technology Services (ITS) have partnered to form the new BC Library Digital Studio—an early-stage media lab in soft launch phase on the second floor of O’Neill Library.

The technology now held within the Digital Studio, located in O’Neill 205, covers an expansive set of arts- and design-centric media, and also new data analysis and visualization software for those seeking science and math oriented computing tools.

In addition to 16 computers—13 Apple and three Dell—the Digital Studio also features color and black-and-white printers, a staff-assisted Makerbot 3D printer, and three HP Scanjets, some of which were transferred directly from the now-closed CTRC. Other media services include multiple flat-screen monitors throughout the room, green-screen and lighting equipment, two electronic keyboards with musical instrument digital interfaces (MIDI) and digital projectors—all accompanied by multiple open conference tables as well as individual desk areas.

According to Associate University Librarian for Instruction, Access and User Engagement Scott Britton, the space was designed for students to utilize advanced media programs that had not been offered at BC in previous years.

“I think what’s interesting is that the [Digital Studio technologies] are much more concentrated, and we’re expecting the use to be a little bit different than what we had in the CTRC,” he said.

Britton also noted that the studio has operated under a soft-launch rollout since its inception at the beginning of the semester due to an ongoing acquisition of new equipment, staff, and space, but is slated to have a fully integrated student and faculty staff by next semester.

With the presence of new campus technology services such as 3D printing, audio and visual editing, and data management, the University hopes the developing staff will help transition users to media-oriented software programs such as Adobe Suite, ArcGIS, and HyperResearch—a BC-founded qualitative data analysis tool.

“The idea isn’t to have just a general computer lab … but what we’re trying to create in the library digital studio is a place where some of [the technology] is common software, but a lot of it is something a student may need to use for the first time,” Britton said.

Only a portion of the student staff is scheduled to begin working in the studio next Monday, but other students and a full-time faculty position will be gradually introduced into the studio as training on equipment use and technology information is given to the studio’s staff.

The student staff will consist of a mix between undergraduate and graduate students, primarily performing reception roles, but will also assist studio users in becoming familiar with the space’s technology and software capabilities. Britton said that a full-time faculty member within Library Services is also slated to oversee much of the daily operations of the studio, in addition to conducting other University library projects for the department.

From the former DVD rental area that O’Neill 205 used to hold, the digital studio’s organizers sought to preserve the “faculty previewing room”—a conference room designed for faculty members to screen and select academic videos before adding them to a course syllabus. Now, the room is open to both students and faculty for viewings of academically related video materials or for general conference purposes among students. Usage of the previewing room will be allocated based on a reservation system, which Britton noted will likely be finalized by the spring semester after observing how the space is used throughout the fall semester.

The Digital Studio was designed to serve as an open, collaborative, and creative group area for students seeking non-traditional media technologies, and less so as a quiet space, Britton said.

“We’ve added some whiteboards and [Library Services] is thinking about adding some more—maybe even some panels or whiteboard paint on the walls,” he said. “We’re trying to think of it as a place where groups of people can work on projects, hopefully using the technology the room has available.”

Following a recent meeting with the Quality of Student Life committee, Library Services wanted to ensure that the closing of the CTRC did not imply the abandonment of its resources, only their relocation throughout various parts of O’Neill library.

“[Former CTRC resources] are now either folded into the general library computing or into the library Digital Studio,” Britton said. “It’s all there and it’s free for people to use. The soft launch is really around the services that we’re offering and the staffing that we provide … The intent all along was not just to replace the CTRC with another one, but was to try and build something more forward-looking than back in the ’90s.”

The Digital Studio is open and operated on the same 24/5 schedule as the rest of O’Neill, and a complete listing of the studio’s software, hardware, and office equipment features can be found on its new website at http://libguides.bc.edu/digitalstudio.

Featured Image by Michelle Castro / Heights Staff

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Connor Farley was a copy editor and news editor for The Heights. You can probably find him at a Phish show.