One of the goals for the UST Libraries is to introduce students to the kinds of technology that they may encounter as they graduate to the workplace (and the world) of the 21st century – an information- and technology-rich environment that requires a high level of “literacy” in the use of information as employees, parents, citizens and consumers. As we evolve into a largely digital library, we are also creating spaces in our buildings for group work and collaboration, hallmarks of both learning and working in the new century.
Our latest effort in this area is to provide a new kind of workspace for the St. Thomas community. We’ve undertaken a trial installation of the Media:scape product from Steelcase. Media:scape is a combination of furniture and technology that allows easy sharing of information in a small group. Room 110 in the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center is now (and for the next month) equipped to accommodate at least four users with laptops that can be linked to a large flat screen monitor. Users can easily plug in their computers and view what is on their monitor on the large screen. It is very easy to go from computer to computer, making the sharing of ideas very convenient.
If UST users (we invite students, faculty and staff to use the room) find this an effective solution for collaborative teaching, learning and working, we will consider equipping more group-study spaces in the library in this way.
In addition, we’ve installed a Walkstation in the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center. The Walkstation allows users to walk as they work – on a slow moving (2 m.p.h.) treadmill that allows the use of a computer at the same time. There is research (most notably from the Mayo Clinic) that suggests that movement improves brain function, ease of learning and reduces anxiety and depression in addition to providing the physical benefits associated with physical activity. Since scholarly work can be highly sedentary, we are curious to know whether providing this option in the library would be welcome as well as beneficial, both intellectually and physically. The Walkstation will be in the library for the next few weeks, and we invite anyone to give it a try.
In both cases, we’ll be asking users to provide us with feedback on these new products. Thank you for helping us as we reimagine the library of the 21st century!