Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bracken Library Hosts Grand Opening of The Schwartz Digital Complex

The grand opening of the Helen B. and Martin D. Schwartz Special Collections and Digital Complex was the focus of this year’s first Tech4U held on September 17, 2009, in Bracken Library from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sponsored by the Vice President’s Office for Information Technology, Tech4U is an information technology showcase of emerging media and other cutting-edge technologies.

A series of five Tech4U events this academic year will highlight different aspects of technology for teaching, learning, and research. The Schwartz Digital Complex is a high-tech facility located on the first floor of Bracken Library. It is a resource designed to support collaboration and innovation through digital technology. This facility has been made possible by a financial gift from local businessman and philanthropist Mr. Martin Schwartz in honor of his late wife Helen.

The September 17 opening event included two keynote sessions that highlighted the advanced technology of the Schwartz Digital Complex. The first session, “Avatars in the Library: The Opening of the Virtual Alexander M. Bracken Library,” focused on the new virtual Bracken Library in the 3-D world of Second Life.

Dr. James Connolly, Director of the Center for Middletown Studies; Dr. John Fillwalk, Director of the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts; Maren Read, Archivist for Manuscript Collections; and John Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections, gave presentations on the construction of the virtual library and its resources, the potential academic uses, and the future plans for further development of this virtual learning environment. The virtual Bracken Library project was funded by a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Innovative Library Program Grant received by the University Libraries for 2008-2009.

The second keynote session, “A Collaboration in Architecture: Virtual Design Studios,” featured Dean Guillermo Vasquez de Valasco and Associate Professor Antonieta Angulo of the College of Architecture and Planning, along with students from Professor Angulo’s studio class. Dean Vasquez de Velasco gave an interactive presentation on the Las Americas Virtual Design Studio in the Schwartz Complex Viewing Room while Professor

Angulo conducted her studio class in the Schwartz Complex Learning Pods. The simultaneity demonstrated the collaborative nature of virtual studios and the versatile capabilities of the new facility. Students used SMART AirLiner wireless slates and Second Life, Skype to work with the architectural firm NBBJ in London, and video conferencing technologies to collaborate with BSA LifeStructures students and instructors in Indianapolis.

Throughout the Tech4U event, attendees were able to interact with educational partners AT&T, Apple, Lenovo, and Roscor to learn about their latest products. Information tables and demonstrations were available through United Technology Services, Infocaster, WIPB TV, IPR Radio, Emerging Media Initiatives, Virtual Studio, the University Libraries’ Digital Initiatives, Emerging Technologies and the Digital Corps, Journalistic Games, and Modern Languages’ Second Life Project. In addition, tours and demonstrations of the Schwartz Digital Complex were offered during the day.

Microsoft Surface, a multi-user, multi-touch computer that looks like a table and works without a mouse or keyboard, was a big hit again this year. The University Libraries now have a Surface in the Schwartz Digital Complex, and it attracted a large audience of students and others throughout the day. University Computing Services and Department of Computer Science personnel worked with University Libraries personnel to create three new applications that are available on the Libraries’ Surface unit: interactive campus maps and photographs that show the development of Ball State through the years, a sampling of digital images of orchids from the Charles E. Bracker Photographs Collection (described in earlier posting), and a collection of College of Architecture and Planning students’ work from the Las Americas Virtual Design Studio.

In addition to the individuals mentioned above, several other University Libraries personnel participated in the planning, set-up, and events of Tech4U, including Alex Amira, James A. Bradley, Dixie D. DeWitt, Bradley D. Faust, Angie S. Gibson, Amanda A. Hurford, Bobbie J. Pearson, Carolyn F. Runyon, Blake R. Stiener, and Budi Wibowo.

The next Tech4U will be held in Bracken Library from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., October 15, 2009. Others will follow on November 19, 2009, March 25, 2010, and April 15, 2010. All events are free and open to the public. To learn more, visit

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