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Library opens modern technology research center

Maria Do | Monday, November 4, 2013

The Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) welcomed visitors at its opening reception Nov. 1 at Hesburgh Library to introduce the latest technology for scholarship of all disciplines.
At the reception, students, faculty and the community gathered in different stations of the CDS, where support technicians presented a variety of the services, workshops and expertise available.
Located in the northeast corner of the Hesburgh Library first floor, the CDS was conceived as part of Hesburgh Library’s strategic planning process to improve library resources, Edward H. Arnold University librarian Diane Parr Walker said.
“One of our strategic goals is to expand digital programs and services in support of both research and teaching,” Walker said. “We realized that there currently didn’t seem to be one easy-to-find place on campus where both students and faculty could go to get started with leveraging digital tools and technologies. We thought that the Library could be a natural ‘research hub’ for campus, offering digital library expertise and referral services.”
As part of the 50-year commemoration of Hesburgh Library. the CDS both maintains and furthers University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh’s original vision of creating an accessible space for the university community to advance scholarship, Walker said.
“Fr. Hesburgh’s original vision for the Hesburgh Library building (then called Memorial Library) was that it would be the academic heart of the University and be clearly seen as a symbol of academic excellence,” Walker said. “In this digital age, advanced intellectual work will increasingly require the ability to use digital tools to thrive and contribute to the creation of new knowledge. The CDS will ensure that the Hesburgh Libraries will continue to be the academic heart of the University for the next 50 years and beyond as a place where students and faculty can find expertise and digital tools that will help them achieve academic excellence.”
While the new digital resources will transform traditional methods of research, Walker said the CDS would succeed in meeting the technological needs of the 21st century.
“The work of the Center is changing how we use our library spaces and what expertise and services we offer our faculty,” Walker said. “Already, it is revolutionizing how we work together to advance teaching, research and scholarship. Knowledge creation in the 21st century demands access to state-of-the-art technology, advanced research expertise and digital library services.”
Innovative research technologies will also improve upon scholarship techniques of the past, Walker said.
“Traditional methods of scholarship would require physically looking through many books and publications,” Walker said. “Depending on how thorough you wanted to be, you could spend weeks or months exploring an answer to just one of many questions. With digital tools for text mining and analysis, and the millions of books that have been digitized from libraries around the world by projects like Google Books and the Internet Archive Project, you can search hundreds or thousands of publications very quickly to get that same answer.”
Elliot Visconsi, Chief Academic Digital Officer and Associate Professor of English, said that the CDS will ultimately offer new opportunities to better aid the university’s academic success.
“The Center is a great gift to the faculty and students,” Visconsi said. “A question I hear a lot is one that goes like this: ‘I know there are amazing tools for research and teaching, but where do I begin?’ The Center is an answer to that question. The talented expert staff and the technical resources gathered here get students and faculty further into their work, unlocking our creativity, and giving our research new force and speed.”