New Digital Scholarship Lab to Hold Grand Opening on Oct. 20

October 18, 2006

Oct. 18, 2006 -- The new Scholars’ Lab on the fourth floor of Alderman Library is holding a grand opening celebration on Friday, Oct. 20, from 3 to 5 p.m., but for many University of Virginia faculty and students it’s already a very familiar, comfortable place to work.

The open, light-filled area, which occupies 4,000 square feet of renovated space in the northwest corner of the building features areas for collaborative and solitary work. The lab combines the GeoStat and EText centers and ITC Research Computing Support services and will connect faculty and students to other digital services.

The Scholars’ Lab was designed to bring together resources to foster a culture of digital scholarship at the University, said Martha Sites, associate University librarian for production and technology services. “It provides an array of sophisticated research technologies for humanities, arts, architecture and the social sciences that is unique.”

“There is no comparable space where you can work. The lab has the collaborative space and the computers,” said Bruce Dotson, associate professor of urban and environmental planning. On a recent project Dotson turned to Donna Tolson, head of the Scholars’ Lab, and Chris Gist, a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) specialist, to help him overlay census data with research results from satellite maps. By combining sets of findings that are not usually compared, Dotson has been able to enhance the understanding of his research into sprawl, part of a larger examination of land use and growth management The lab is jointly staffed by Library and ITC experts versed in emerging technologies and capable of providing on-demand assistance with computing tasks and digital resources for both research and classroom projects. It’s also the place to go to obtain U.Va.-licensed software.

When planning the lab, Sites said they were always conscious of how they could help faculty and graduate students add value to their research, teaching and learning and create a facility that would respond to faculty requests for “one-stop shopping,” as well as flexibility to meet the research needs of individuals and groups of various sizes.

The lab boasts high-end workstations with widescreen, high resolution monitors; areas that accommodate personal wired and wireless laptop use; scanners, printers and CD/DVD burners; and enhanced software and digital resources for statistical and spatial analysis, text and image manipulation and visualization. Group workstations, also fitted with high-end computers, allow two or three people to collaborate. Two adjacent rooms — a small wired conference room with a flat panel monitor and a 12-seat computer classroom with sophisticated technology and computer stations to facilitate hands-on instruction projects — allow for other work and instructional options.

Tolson said the Scholars’ Lab plans to offer colloquia, seminars, short courses and referrals for intellectual and property rights questions as well as on-going events where faculty and graduate students are able to highlight their research.

The goal is to provide faculty and students a rich set of services to pursue their research, teaching and learning, Sites said.

University Librarian Karin Wittenborg and Vice President and Chief Information Officer James Hilton will speak. Demonstrations and examples of digital scholarship will be presented as well as the opportunity to have informal discussions with digital content and technology specialists.