FALL 2014

Digital Horizons

The Library addresses new initiatives by first supporting fresh and interesting projects, often the ideas of faculty and/or librarians, and then seeing how it goes. By allowing for an organic development we are then able to learn as we go and evaluate the possibilities of perhaps moving from "project to program".

This approach has facilitated tolerance for risk, and put us on the near-cutting-edge in several areas, including new library space, a fully integrated organizational structure, our rapid digital collections development and, especially now in the arena of project-based learning and research, using our special collections and digital resources.

For the latter, the collaborative work we have done with the history department through their "Making History Public" course has been nothing short of transformative, bringing students into the Burns Library, using the unique materials and then re-presenting them into creative and intelligent projects. In fact, among research libraries, we are leaders in having our undergraduates use our special collections.

Other projects have been undertaken with Jesuit materials and musical scores of sacred music, and many more are underway.  But the possibilities go far beyond these few examples, and in many respects we feel that this sort of collaborative work with both students and faculty represents an integral part of where the Library adds value to the academic enterprise – our motto is "Value Beyond Discovery". Often under the rubric of "digital humanities" many universities are beginning to get serious about this type of research. Here at BC we feel that the Library can and should be fully engaged with this type of research, even beyond the humanities, and that we can offer both content expertise and project management assistance with these technology tools that in turn facilitate new and interesting representations, interpretations and analysis of content in all its forms. To that end we are currently in the process of making the leap from a project-based approach to the establishment of a program to support digital initiatives.

In this emerging digital horizon we look forward to collaborating with the new Center for Teaching Excellence and IDES, Research Computing and ITS, and of course all interested faculty and students. We are currently recruiting for a new Associate University Librarian for Digital Initiatives as well as two digital scholarship librarians to help manage these projects and collaborations. We are entering an exciting time for teaching, learning and research because of the many technology tools and expertise at our disposal. We in the Libraries are committed to facilitating the navigation of this new horizon and making BC's motto of "Ever to Excel" evident within it. Expect a more developed update in the next newsletter.

As always, please feel free to contact me with concerns, suggestions and ideas.

Tom Wall
University Librarian