A new One Button Studio is up and running in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS) Library in 201 Davey Lab, with a complete Media Commons facility to follow shortly, thanks to a partnership between the University Libraries and Information Technology Services.

The One Button Studio has been operating as a “soft rollout” since April. Installation of the Media Commons, consisting of three computer workstations with media editing software and a WhisperRoom sound recording booth, is slated to be complete by the beginning of the fall 2015 semester. A new staff person will soon be hired to provide technology support as well as perform more traditional librarian duties.

The decision to pursue the installation of a One Button Studio in this location, explained Nan Butkovich, head of the PAMS Library, arose from discussions she had with faculty in the Department of Statistics in 2014. “They were very interested in a One Button Studio,” she said. “That gave the Library the extra oomph to get funding.”

Additionally, said Butkovich, “We were thinking Media Commons very early on.” Ann Thompson, PAMS Library manager, concurred, saying, “We were definitely hoping to have some form of technology and support onsite, and Media Commons was an obvious partnership.”

Ann Thompson demonstrates the new PAMS Library One Button Studio.

Ann Thompson demonstrates the new PAMS Library One Button Studio. Credit: Jamie Oberdick.

During the same time period, Media Commons staff within Information Technology Services had observed that traffic in the Media Commons facility in 11 Sparks Building had dropped off considerably following the opening of the nearby Pattee Library Knowledge Commons and associated Media Commons. Ryan Wetzel, manager of the Media Commons, said, “We decided to close the Sparks location and use those resources elsewhere for another Media Commons, in this case, serving as a strategic partnership with the PAMS Library, since that’s a strategic direction for the Media Commons. We see the most success whenever it’s partnered with a library, and that’s true across the Commonwealth.”

“I think success in the Knowledge Commons has really inspired a lot of libraries to look at the services that they’re offering and the types of study spaces that they’re offering to students,” said Wetzel. “Ann and Nan specifically approached us about putting in a One Button Studio, and our conversations continued from there. We agreed that a full Media Commons location in their space would be mutually beneficial,” he said.

The value of such a partnership was underscored by all the parties involved. For the Media Commons to partner with a library, said Butkovich, “is critical at this point in time. Nobody has the money to do it by themselves, and it doesn’t make sense to duplicate services, if there’s already a unit that’s doing it.” She noted, “It’s much better to form a partnership with them, so that we can draw on the strengths of both and make better use of everybody’s resources.”

The two units working together to make such facilities available, “has the potential to be a really valuable benefit for the University,” Butkovich said. “Definitely for the College of Science, but also for the Libraries and for the University. I could see other similar kinds of collaborations developing with other colleges.”

“The partnership is extremely valuable for Media Commons,” Wetzel explained, “because it gets into a demographic of student and faculty that we haven’t worked closely with traditionally, the mathematics and sciences groups.” He said this is another example of placing a facility directly in a space already inhabited by faculty and students from a particular academic area, as has been done in the case of the College of Agricultural Sciences and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “We like to do that and get involved specifically with serving the needs of that college or group that we’re partnering with,” said Wetzel. For example, he noted, Media Commons staff can develop specific types of instruction for multimedia support for particular fields of study and particular courses.

During the current soft rollout period, which began near the end of the spring semester, the new PAMS Library One Button Studio traffic has largely been overflow from the facility in the Pattee Knowledge Commons, whenever it became booked up, according to Wetzel.

However, Butkovich said that in discussing future uses for the studio with science and math faculty, “The ones that I’ve heard about so far, they’re wanting the students to get used to speaking, so they’re assigning them projects where they have to give an oral presentation of some kind.” Also mentioned, she said, was faculty use, “for those days when we don’t know if we’re going to be closed for snow or they know they’re going to be out of town and have to miss class—they actually would have the facilities to prepare a class for their students ahead of time.” She noted, “I think both audiences are pretty interested in it.”

The installation of the One Button Studio and Media Commons is only the beginning of Butkovich’s future vision for technology that she would like the PAMS Library to feature. She foresees a whole wing of stacks removed, and in their place, individual and group study areas, 3-D visualization technology, a Lightboard, and more. “Ultimately,” she said, “my long-term goal is for this library to be a research-focused science commons that students will be able to take advantage of, because research is being built into the undergraduate curriculum. Because they’re trying to get students more involved in the research projects, I think students need to have access to the stuff.”

Nan Butkovich and Thompson standing and gesturing in the PAMS Library.

Nan Butkovich (foreground) and Ann Thompson describe their vision for the transformation of the PAMS Library space and technologies. Credit: Jamie Oberdick.

Thompson also agreed that access is crucial, saying, “The Library’s kind of a neutral ground. It’s not any one person’s; the Library’s always been seen as an open, safe environment that everybody has access to, so having those technologies in this space gives an equal access opportunity.”

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