It’s happening again, just like it does every year. A wistfulness is setting in at the River Campus Libraries.
Just the other day, we were slouched in an Adirondack chair on Rush Rhees Library’s balcony. We were admiring the green of the too-peaceful Eastman Quad as the breeze carried away the last celebratory particles of the University of Rochester’s 171st Commencement. Maybe it was pollen. It’s hard to say. What was clear was summer had arrived.
This summer will be different than most. Gleason Library and the Carlson Science and Engineering Library are closed for refresh projects (reopening August 24). And within Carlson Library, a new space is being constructed: Studio X, the University’s hub for extended reality.
As we sat on the balcony thinking about the good times we’ve had in Gleason and Carlson, we heard a voice saying, “Don’t look back. You can never look back.” It sounded a lot like Don Henley. We brushed the thought aside, only to be interrupted again by the playing of a hi-hat. A few moments later, a familiar guitar riff cut through the air, followed by a wistful keyboard melody. Before we knew what was happening, we were singing…
No students to be heard
No students to be seen
I feel it everywhere
Changes are happening
Empty booths, empty seats
The whiteboards are alone
I reach out for your doors
As I walk to iZone
I can see you
Your carpet fading in the sun
You got your chairs pulled out at those
Group workspaces, baby
I can tell you
An ever better age will dawn
After the hard hat summer has gone…
This was when the carillon woke us. At some point in our daydreaming we dozed off. Don Henley, the music, the “Boys of Summer” parody—it was all a dream. Hard Hat Summer, though, that’s real. Allow us to provide a quick refresher on some of our refreshing and our soon-to-be newest space.
Gleason Library Refresh Project
Open 24 hours a day (we can assure you that it’s being used all 24 hours; we’ve checked), seven days a week, Gleason Library has—unofficially—been the hardest working library space at the University since 2007. At this point, it’s similar to a whiteboard that’s been written on and never erased for 14 years.
The refresh project is a much-needed aesthetic makeover, but it’s also a leveling-up for the space’s overall functionality. For example, there will be “alone, yet together” space, which caters to students who want to work independently but still want that conversational buzz. And there will be more and better quiet space that supports and encourages high-concentration work.
Reasons to be excited
- A suite of new, comfortable study furniture, including powered individual study pods
- A furnished space that's designed to make it easier to meet up with friends and study groups
- A five-panel, double-sided whiteboard wall
- Newly configured computer workstations
- Plus infrastructure that supports
- TA office hours and library consultations
- Casual workshop space for library- or student-led learning opportunities
- Pop-up programs for sharing work and research
Maurini Strub, director of Performance & User Engagement, at email@example.com
Carlson Library 1st Floor Refresh Project
If Carlson Library were a person, hearing us talk about how tired Gleason Library is, it would likely remind us it was built in 1987. Then we would remind Carlson about the not-too-distant updates made to the third floor. Then Carlson would ask about the first floor, and we would only be able to offer a blank stare. In short, the first floor’s refresh needs are similar to Gleason’s.
The refresh project is creating a space designed to be an accelerator for undergraduate research and an on-ramp to high-tech spaces like Studio X and the VISTA Collaboratory. It will be dynamic, agile, and responsive while facilitating access to support services and offering curricular and co-curricular skill development programs. Think Carlson’s version of Lam Square.
Reasons to be excited
- New, modern furniture, including comfortable chairs and workstations.
- More flexible workspaces—easier to shift from group to solo study
- Bookable group study rooms: medium (2) and small (1) with usable technology and work surfaces
- An alley of public computers for individual use and formal or informal learning
Sarah Pugachev, director of the Carlson Science & Engineering Library and Research Initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s important to know about Studio X is it already exists. The space is basically in its “Patrick Swayze in Ghost” phase—it can interact with the University community; it just doesn’t have a corporeal form. For example, Studio X has held several augmented and virtual reality events (like the one where participants created a virtual Rube Goldberg Machine) and is co-sponsor of Voices of XR, a speaker series that brings immersive technology scholars and professionals to the University. (In case you're wondering, XR is short-form for "extended reality." Check out this cheat sheet for common Studio X lingo.)
Almost everything about Studio X is exciting because it’s completely new. Rather than trying to boil it down, here’s a quick breakdown of its parts:
- The Salon is the heart of Studio X. With a mix of tables and soft seating and interactive galleries, faculty research, and student projects on display, this is where the University community can explore, learn, and find inspiration.
- The Innovation Suite supports collaborative, long-term, research-intensive projects. This is where you will find high-performance workstations with specialized AR/VR equipment.
- The Learning Hub is a flexible, hands-on learning space. It supports formal and informal experiences and will host showcases, hackathons, a range of workshops, and even open office hours for instructors.
- Creativity stations allow for individual exploration and project development. These six high-end workstations will give students and faculty access to computers equipped with high-end graphics cards and processors to do heavy-lifting XR work.
- Collaboration rooms will facilitate XR exploration and creation. These bookable rooms will be central to the work that comes out of Studio X.
- Dedicated staff space gives Studio X staff a place to work independently but near students and faculty who may need their expertise.
More reasons to be excited
- Recently ordered: 20 Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headsets, 4 HoloLens 2 mixed reality headsets, several 360-degree cameras, and a 360-degree audio device
- Studio X will look to hire student “XR specialists” who will run programs and workshops, support classes, provide equipment training, and more
- A series of workshops that offer advanced and in-depth training in programs like Unity is in early development
Emily Sherwood, director of Studio X and Digital Scholarship, at email@example.com ∎