How has the coronavirus lockdown affected the Scholarly Commons and the move?

The Scholarly Commons has been closed since March 16, but we are still working to connect you to the resources you need and to answer your questions about digital scholarship projects and methods.  As always, you can reach us by email.  We have also joined the AskALibrarian chat service during our regular business hours (8:30-5, Monday through Friday).

Although all of us are working from home, the remodeling project in Room 220 is still moving fast!  We just finalized most of the technology that will be in the room and are close to final decisions on furniture.  We will have all new scanners, including a new scanner that can handle slides and film, an upgraded book scanner, a sheet-feed scanner, and two large flatbed scanners.  Workstations will be upgraded to the same memory and processors of the two workstations at the back of our current space.  If you have used them you know that they can handle large datasets without flinching, as well as other RAM-intensive tasks.  All of our current software will be available whenever the new space is open, which includes evenings and weekends.

If you want to look at specific models to plan what you will do with the new equipment, here are links:

Workstations: Dell Precision 3630

Scanner workstations: Lenovo M720Q

Bookeye Scanner: KIC Bookeye 4 V2

Sheetfeed scanner: Epson WF DS-7500

Flatbed scanner (2): Plustek OpticBook A300 Plus

Photo/Slide scanner: Epson Perfection V850 Pro

We will also have a state of the art audiovisual setup in our event space, including cameras, microphones, speakers, and a high-resolution laser projector.  Details of that setup should be available in the next couple of weeks.

This is a good time to thank everyone in the Library who has been working with the Scholarly Commons for months (and in some cases years) to decide on this hardware profile: Jim Dohle, Lee Galaway, Heidi Imker, Rhonda Jurinak, and Meghean Osuchowski, as well as others in Library Information Technology who have contributed expertise at specific points in the process.  It takes a village, and all of you have been crucial partners in this process.  Thank you.

The coronovirus lockdown means that our move date is still uncertain, dependent on when the construction phase of the remodel is scheduled.  But we are as certain as we can be during this uncertain time that the process will be complete before the start of Fall Semester 2020.  As always, let us know if you have any questions about our plans.

 

We can partner with you to host events!

One of the biggest goals of the Scholarly Commons is to create a community of researchers using digital methods, and smaller communities of researchers using specific methods.  Are you the only person in your college using GIS to analyze data?  There are many others like you across campus, though it can be hard to identify them.  This is also true of the other methods and tools we cover: see https://www.library.illinois.edu/sc/services/ for some examples.  We focus on interdisciplinary get-togethers to help people find each other across disciplines, like the Image of Research (graduate edition) awards reception and the talk about open educational resources that happened last Tuesday afternoon.  Our new space will open up even more possibilities, since we will have the ability to bring in people remotely, and record talks or other events.  We should also be able to accommodate break-out groups with their own wireless screens, who can then share screens with other groups and the large screen at the front of the room.

Have you wanted to host a reading group on a digital scholarship topic?  Would you like to get together with other text miners (or tweet analyzers, or mappers, or…) to share work in process?  Do you know of a speaker who has a fresh perspective on a digital scholarship topic?  Let us know at sc@library.illinois.edu.

 

How will moving to 220 change the ways that people work in the Scholarly Commons?

Our goal in moving to Room 220 is to preserve the benefits of our current space in Room 306 as well as dramatically expanding what is possible in the Scholarly Commons: easier to say than to do, particularly without the input of current Scholarly Commons users.  So for your review, here is the plan for the space as it stands right now.

We will have the same kind of work space (double monitors, advanced data analysis software, scanners, large work surfaces) that we do now, centered in the northwest corner of Room 220.  The service desk will be nearby.  For security reasons, our book collection will probably move into the Main Stacks, but be kept together as a browsable collection.

Staff offices will stay in our current space, so if you need to consult with someone other than the person staffing the service desk you can either ask at the service desk or email us at sc@library.illinois.edu.  As now, we will not expect you to know who you need to talk to in order to set up an appointment.  Just explain what you are trying to do and we will connect you with experts who can help.  Our service hours will be the same as our current hours (8:30-6:00 during the semester), but the room will be open as work space during all the hours that the Main Library is open, for more access to our software and scanners!  Statistical consulting and REDCap office hours will be available as they are now.

The rest of Room 220 will be flexible space with collaboration tables and monitors, whiteboards, and soft furniture that can be reconfigured to meet the needs of groups working in the space.  The northeast corner of the room will have an audio/video setup that will make new kinds of events possible.  We will upgrade both the video and audio quality in the room, including capability to record and stream events and to bring in off-campus speakers via Skype.

What questions do you have about these plans?  Are there other issues that concern you?  If you are close reading this post (unlikely!), you have noticed that the question in the title is not answered.  This is deliberate, because you have the answer.  Please email us at sc@library.illinois.edu to share it with us.

 

We need your input about the collaboration rooms in Room 220!

The collaboration rooms (Rooms 214 and 216) are larger than necessary for their current use and are static in a room that is becoming more and more flexible.  They will be removed early in the remodeling project and replaced with smaller and more flexible collaboration spaces.  Providing reservable spaces for researchers and students to work together in relative privacy is a very important goal for us!

We have several criteria for these rooms: they need to be accessible, well-lit and well-ventilated, large enough to hold four people, and they need outlets to plug in electronic devices.  They should have glass walls for safety and provide a fair amount of auditory privacy (but not so much that they are not ventilated).  We also would like to have rooms on wheels so that we can move them when necessary.  Prefabricated options we have found do not meet all of these criteria, though we are still looking.

Here is an option from Orangebox:

It isn’t moveable, but it seems to meet most of our other criteria as far as we can tell from the photo.  We will have a chance to see these rooms in person during the next few weeks, but in the meantime we would like to hear from you at sc@library.illinois.edu about the following questions:

  1. What do you like (and dislike) about this room as a space to collaborate?
  2. What would you do in this room if it was available to you?

Your comments will help us to pick a room that meets the majority of campus needs, or design a room if we cannot find something prefabricated that meets our needs.  Thank you!

The Scholarly Commons is Moving!

The Scholarly Commons has been hosting events and testing equipment and furniture in 220 Main Library since Fall 2017, and the time has come to move the Scholarly Commons service desk downstairs.  We are excited to have a larger space where we can work with our partners and users in new ways!  Many decisions still need to be made, so watch this space for updates and opportunities to provide input on furniture and technology.  Here is what we know now:

What exactly will happen?

The collaboration rooms in 220 have proven oversized for collaboration and consulting needs, block sight lines, and reduce the flexibility of the room. These rooms will be removed and the carpet and walls will be repaired in those areas. Ceiling tiles will be swapped out throughout the room to brighten the space, and finally the room will be painted in keeping with furniture selections. Our furniture and technology selections will be made in ways that allow us to reconfigure the space to meet known needs and accommodate evolving needs. We will replace the existing collaboration rooms with smaller reservable rooms that may be moveable in order to provide maximum flexibility for the space.  The workstations and scanners currently in the Scholarly Commons will be moved to Room 220 and located near the service desk.

What is the schedule?

Tentatively, should things go well, our goal would be for the minimal construction to happen over winter break to avoid disruption for students, particularly during finals week. Following furniture selection and painting, furniture and technology will be ordered and placed in spring, along with a communications campaign to announce the Scholarly Commons relocation, with an anticipated transition of services over summer of 2020, allowing the Scholarly Commons (and the Library) to adjust services, as needed.

How does this project relate to the Library Building Project (https://www.library.illinois.edu/library-building-project/)?

The construction in Room 220 will be minimal and investments will largely be in furniture and technology: things that can be moved should the Scholarly Commons relocate to another location elsewhere in the Main Library once the Building Project is finished. This strategy will “refresh” the space, but also leave behind a space that can be customized for another unit. Ultimately, we believe this approach gives us maximum flexibility, allows the Scholarly Commons to evolve in long-intended ways, and will stimulate ideas as everyone continues to consider opportunities related to the new Building Project.