Library Ambassadors Report: Digital Research Lab is in the Works

Posted on September 17, 2021

With the Library Ambassadors Report, new member Jenna Massey '24 will provide updates on the how the organization is helping make W&M Libraries a better place to study, discover, and community build.

On Monday, the Library Ambassadors of W&M held their first meeting of the semester to discuss the creation of a Digital Research Lab on the first floor of Swem.  Though recent coronavirus-related precautions had compelled the group to relocate from their usual meeting space in the Cox Classroom, the event occurred comfortably and safely on Swem’s outdoor patio.  The ambassadors discussed the upcoming project over a dinner catered by Jason’s Deli and were encouraged to provide feedback and ideas for future meetings at the end of the session.

The Digital Research Lab, which would be located adjacent to the Special Collections Research Center, has been proposed in response to a community desire for more accessible digital literacy tools in the library.  The lab would serve as a collaborative space to explore the digital humanities and familiarize students with GIS, publishing, data science, visualization, and other technological research methods.  Guest speaker Lisa Nickel, the Associate Dean of Research and Public Services, stated that the project emphasizes accessibility and curiosity for all students, whether or not they have prior knowledge of its resources. 

Monday’s meeting was my first experience with the Library Ambassadors.  My time as a student employee of Swem has given me tremendous insight into how much the library values its visitors, but I was genuinely impressed to see how seriously the staff handles student concerns when proposing a project with the scale of the Digital Research Lab.  Possessing an understanding of digital humanities is increasingly important in the modern academic climate, and I believe the students of W&M will benefit greatly from this project.

The library is asking students to provide feedback about the physical space of the Digital Research Lab and the resources it will offer through this surveyTwo focus groups will be held with the architects on Wednesday, September 22; one from 11:30-12:30, and the other from 12:30-1:30.  A boxed lunch from Jason’s Deli will be provided at the conclusion of both sessions.  If you are interested in participating in the design process for the Digital Research Lab, please RSVP and select your meal here.