By Derek Devine
When it comes to offering new resources to the New College of Florida student body, the Jane Bancroft Cook Library is a staple on campus. In a world where there is constant digital push powered by incredible technologies, the library continues to evolve into much more than a book repository.
Tammera Race, Angie Fairweather and Cal Murgu are major pieces of the puzzle that keep the library fresh when it comes to implementing the latest technology in a way that is accessible to all students.
Race, a systems, metadata and assessments librarian, uses makerspaces — a work space for making, learning, exploring and sharing — as an initiative for students to foster collaboration and solve problems together in a nontraditional setting.
“The makerspaces we create allow students to experiment and create as learners and teachers,” says Race. “It gives students from different academic disciplines a chance to interact with each other and create meaningful conversations as they discover new ways to learn.”
Makerspaces cover a broad spectrum of technology from high-tech to low-tech. During the spring semester, a group of students mixed both advanced technology and manual labor during a makerspace pop-up workshop where they created pieces of jewelry. A 3D printer was used to make beads and students used their hands to assemble earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.
Virtual reality is another popular technology that is being used within higher education more than ever before and the Jane Bancroft Cook Library is becoming increasingly active with its own virtual reality efforts. Murgu, a digital humanities librarian, views virtual reality as an opportunity to tap into the ever-changing environment of research within academic libraries.
“Here at Cook, we try to keep ahead of the curve by offering unique services to students and faculty that emphasize emerging technology, innovation, and creative collaboration,” says Murgu. “Virtual reality is one of the many options we want to make available to students who want to create a digital landscape for their research and class projects.”
The library now has two virtual reality sets — one that will remain in the library and one that will be used for pop-up events — expanding the possibilities for students who want to test the waters and learn how virtual reality can take their classwork to the next level.
Fairweather serves as the director of Educational Technology Services (ETS), a unit within the Jane Bancroft Cook Library that works collaboratively with faculty and students in identifying, evaluating, selecting and implementing learning technologies. Students can check-out equipment such as cameras, video equipment, projectors and more for academic purposes. ETS also has its own media lab, a makerspace in its own right, that offers the latest computer software like Adobe Creative Cloud where students can discover and create at no cost.
“The library is constantly working to support students in new ways with our programing,” says Fairweather. “We offer so many services that can boost students’ academic experiences for free. The best part is students have the ability to take equipment home with them to enhance their creative freedom.”
Research suggests that students who use library resources are generally more involved and willing to explore new ideas, and oftentimes, they perform at a higher level than others. As the Jane Bancroft Cook Library grows, so will its plethora of new resources and technologies that New College students can take advantage of.
“We are proud to be a point place for the institution,” says Race. “In some way, students, faculty, and staff are all working with us on a regular basis. By coming to the library and sharing your ideas we can help you discover which resources will best serve your needs.”
Check out recent New College News coverage on the Jane Bancroft Cook Library below:
– Derek Devine is the social media manager at New College of Florida