Northeastern to expand library’s cutting-​​edge Digital Media Commons

Building on the Dig­ital Media Com­mons’ suc­cessful launch last year, North­eastern will expand the cutting-​​edge work­space to the first floor of Snell Library. The upgrades, which will be com­pleted by the start of the fall semester, are part of a series of devel­op­ments throughout the building. The space will include enhanced technology-​​focused space to sup­port immer­sive learning and col­lab­o­ra­tion, including a 3-​​D printing facility, upgraded stu­dios, and next-​​generation audio/​visual infrastructure.

“This new space is yet another man­i­fes­ta­tion of our ongoing com­mit­ment to the university’s teaching and research enter­prise,” said Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs. “We are excited to increase stu­dent and fac­ulty access to the latest tech­nolo­gies and resources to sup­port their inno­v­a­tive projects.”

Con­struc­tion is underway on the first floor, where new, modern study spaces will be inte­grated with a revamped Info­Com­mons com­puter lab that will offer more than 170 new work­sta­tions. The uni­ver­sity will also add more than 20 new rooms designed for group study and col­lab­o­ra­tion, as well as more informal study spaces with a range of seating and desk options. Existing Snell class­rooms will be relo­cated to a new class­room wing fea­turing audio/​visual infra­struc­ture designed to sup­port group learning and immer­sive teaching through upgraded tech­nology, including lec­ture cap­ture and videoconferencing.

During the con­struc­tion period, the Info­Com­mons com­puter lab, the Infor­ma­tion Ser­vices Help Desk, the first-​​floor study areas, and the cir­cu­la­tion and inter­li­brary loan ser­vices have been dis­trib­uted to sev­eral loca­tions throughout library.

Addi­tional first-​​floor enhance­ments will include a sin­gular uni­fied ser­vice desk that is resourced by library and infor­ma­tion ser­vices staff; a walk-​​in dis­covery and inno­va­tion lab; an increased number of printers dis­trib­uted across sev­eral loca­tions; a newly designed “Hub” meeting and reading space; and a new secu­rity system at the library’s front doors, which will be designed to speed entry to the building.

The Dig­ital Media Com­mons reflects the changing role of the uni­ver­sity library and infor­ma­tion ser­vices units within the North­eastern com­mu­nity. In recent years, areas that once held library print and micro­film col­lec­tions have seen their con­tents relo­cated or replaced by dig­ital for­mats, allowing North­eastern to mod­ernize and create facil­i­ties that sup­port learning, inno­va­tion, and dis­covery by stu­dents and fac­ulty in new ways.

The Dig­ital Media Com­mons, launched last fall on Snell Library’s second floor, fea­tures an inno­v­a­tive media lab and a dig­ital cre­ativity center where stu­dents and fac­ulty can uti­lize a range of tech­nolo­gies, such as new ani­ma­tion, audio and video editing, 3-​​D mod­eling, and game-​​design soft­ware that allows stu­dents to create and present inter­ac­tive media-​​rich con­tent. The facility’s data-​​analysis capa­bil­i­ties and computer-​​aided design tools, fully sup­ported by librar­ians and IS tech­nical experts, pro­vide users with the ability to work across dis­ci­pli­nary bound­aries to explore inno­v­a­tive solu­tions to real-​​world problems.

Director said another con­struc­tion phase of the expan­sion is planned for the fall, which will result in a new fac­ulty com­mons sup­port center—an inte­grated ser­vice point for fac­ulty, doc­toral stu­dents, and others to access high-​​level ser­vices for teaching and research. The sup­port center, the result of a part­ner­ship between Snell Library, Infor­ma­tion Ser­vices, and the Center for Advancing Teaching and Learning through Research, will offer such ser­vices as sup­port for course design and devel­op­ment, dig­ital schol­ar­ship, media cre­ation and inte­gra­tion, dig­ital archival tools, text encoding, geo­graphic infor­ma­tion sys­tems tools, soft­ware tuto­rials, and other con­tent, tech­nology, and project-​​management assistance.

Stu­dents have played an impor­tant role in the ongoing devel­op­ment of Snell Library through sur­veys and town hall meet­ings. North­eastern con­vened a meeting in Jan­uary com­prising uni­ver­sity offi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­a­tion and the Grad­uate Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment to dis­cuss topics ranging from the library’s com­mit­ment to sus­tain­ability to the avail­ability of study space. Uni­ver­sity Libraries has also con­ducted two major sur­veys in the last year, asking stu­dents about their pref­er­ences for study space and new technology.

Kristina Lopez, a fourth-​​year crim­inal jus­tice major and the SGA’s out­going vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, helped orga­nize January’s town hall meeting. In a recent inter­view, she praised the Dig­ital Media Com­mons, saying that the “tech­nical upgrades are really cool.”

She also agreed with the library’s deci­sion to con­vert many of it print col­lec­tions to dig­ital col­lec­tions of e-​​books, jour­nals, and peri­od­i­cals. As someone who spends upward of three hours a day in the library, reading, studying, and writing papers, Lopez is happy to have more space to work. “It’s def­i­nitely a plus,” she said.