As technology continues to advance, so must the library. That’s according to Thomas Peters, dean of Missouri State’s Duane G. Meyer Library. Peters said bringing these tools into its facility is important to engage a younger audience and keep ideas fresh.
To do this, the library is gaining an “interdisciplinary” space — home to the newest technologies, like drones and tetherless virtual reality devices.
Peters and Associate Dean Rachel Besara hope this area will encourage individuals from a variety of fields to collaborate and share new ideas in one place, while interacting with the newest products.
“It’s basically going to give (individuals) an opportunity to try out their ideas,” Besara said. “Right now the different technologies — if we have them on campus — are distributed to different places where it might be difficult to find or difficult to have access to. This will be a shared space that everyone has access to, so if you have an idea and you want to try it out, this is the place for you to do it. It’s like an incubator.”
At a recent conference, Peters and Besara said they learned the top 10 newest careers involving drones, virtual or augmented reality, robotics and information technology. According to Peters, this new space enables the university to explore these career paths.
“And for the library, we just see this as an extension of our mission,” Peters said. “It’s not like a new mission for us, but it’s just a new way of interacting, collecting and interpreting information.”
The third floor administrative suites will house the equipment and offer room for collaboration. Library staff will be moving to the second floor, says Peters, noting the current suites are more room than they need.
He adds that the neighboring third floor employee lounge will eventually open for any classroom instructor to “relax and unwind.” This space will also allow instructors from differing disciplines to discuss ideas, according to Besara, with the neighboring lab a place for those ideas to become reality.
While the opening of the lounge is set for the spring 2018 semester, the interdisciplinary space will need more time.
Some of the ideas for the Missouri State model came from that of Georgia State University’s, where Distributed User Support Specialist Janelle Johnson traveled as MSU was considering creating the space.
The university has obtained virtual reality sets and 3D printers in recent years, and Peters said they’ve seen success with the products. After announcing the technology, more student workers were hired for supervision of the equipment because of high demand.
“It’s an ongoing commitment,” Peters said. “There is nothing sorrier than going into a library and checking out a first-generation Kindle or something, because you have to keep up with the technology — and all of this technology is rapidly changing. So it’s a long-term commitment for us.”
Peters and Besara hope this new area will garner a similar popularity.
GSU’s interdisciplinary space was $1 million initially. Besara said funding for the Meyer Library project is coming in slowly, and officials have found small funding in their budget to start. But to grow the space and add more equipment, more money needs to be raised.
“I think we’ve found bits and pieces to get the furniture purchased and to start with the technology,” Besara said. “But like we were saying, this is an iterative process and the funding (will be too). We’re always looking for funds to help augment the technology that we’re offering.”