Walk through the first floor of the Daniel Burke Library, and you may be a bit surprised. First, no one will shush you for talking — in fact conversation and collaboration are encouraged. Need to take a break from writing that paper? There’s a spot where you can grab a drink, snack, or even a sandwich to eat while you work. And if you can’t decide between making a podcast or designing a 3D model for a final class project, venture into TECH Lab, Hamilton’s first makerspace, and learn to do both.
Today’s Burke Library is more than a place to study or read a book — although there are plenty of those, too. This summer the library underwent a major renovation to its 17,000-square-foot first floor. The $5.15 million project was completed with major funding provided by The George I. Alden Trust.

The remodel improved access to library resources, technology, and service points, while adding better study spaces, innovative teaching and learning areas, digital media facilities, and a new maker space.

Joe Shelley Vice President for Libraries and Information Technology Joe Shelley

Hi! TECH Lab

TECH Lab is Technology Exploration and Collaboration at Hamilton. The space, equipped with VR/AR tools, 3D design and printing equipment, and four soundproof production booths, is designed to connect students with learning and research opportunities as they explore what is — and reimagine what’s possible — using the latest digital resources.

For example, students might explore what creating images in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator might add to their thesis project. They might collaborate on a podcast in one of the production booths, or create a jointed foot skeleton using one of the 3D printers. Others are honing skills in drone surveying or photogrammetry in order to partner with professors on their research.

“Not everyone is going to pursue a career using virtual reality or augmented reality, but all students should be aware of the digital possibilities,” Serrano says. “Thanks to these new spaces, we can provide opportunities for students to further explore the digital landscape and map a path suited to their personal interests and goals.”

Peer Tutors: ‘The Heart and Soul’

TECH Lab isn’t just about having the latest gadgets. Students are supported by a professional staff and 25 digital media tutors trained and coordinated by Instructional Designer Bret Olsen.

“Peer-to-peer instruction is the heart and soul of our model,” Olsen says. “Digital media tutors, data science tutors, and research tutors help guide the program and bring fantastic ideas. Students under-stand tutors and develop a level of comfort working with them. The on-the-job training allows tutors to grow and expand their leadership potential.”

Although the library’s educational technologists, instructional designers, and research librarians remain committed to supporting academic classes, much of the work that happens in TECH Lab is student-driven — and the team is always on the lookout for cool opportunities to share. For example, did you know you can use an open-source tool called TimelineJS to build visually rich, interactive timelines using nothing more than a Google spreadsheet? The TECH Lab tutors can show you how!

We don’t see this as an IT place; it is a modern library, a space of creation where any humanist can come to tinker with ideas. A place for everyone.

Nhora Serrano Associate Director for Digital Innovation, Learning & Research

Collaboration & Accommodation

Creating spaces for collaboration — while ensuring accessibility and sustainability — were top priorities for the renovation and have been infused into nearly every aspect of the project, according to Director of Learning and Research Services Beth Bohstedt. The TECH Lab, service desks, and collection exhibits are fully accessible.

“The new spaces are also flexible enough to be used for future needs that we can’t imagine yet,” Bohstedt says.

Other updates to the Burke Library include:

  • LED lighting to improve energy conservation
  • Modified bathroom to make it fully accessible
  • New offices for LITS staff
  • Upgraded finishes (new furniture, carpet, ceilings, and help desks)
  • And soon to come … two digital kiosks (to be located at the library entrance and outside TECH Lab) that will highlight collections, programs, services, and projects underway.

Published in Fall 2023 Hamilton Magazine

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