How would you describe this big idea?
The Georgia Tech Library could serve as a living laboratory for students and faculty to prototype ideas related to sustainability. “Experiments” in the library could include: interactive exhibits to inspire behavioral change, integrating the new library’s leading edge environmental engineering design into the curriculum, or co-creating new modes for faculty scholarly communication related to sustainability.
How is this big idea included in your research?
I serve as the subject librarian for the School of Public Policy and am also involved with the design of new spaces and services as part of “Library Next.” The Library Next initiative involves a renewal of the aging and inefficient physical facility, a new partnership with Emory University to preserve and provide access to the print collection, and a complete reimagining of Library’s services and spaces.
For many years the library has served as a testing ground for new student inventions and collaborations. For example, a real-time “computer availability” feature on the library website was initially developed as a student project and was hugely popular among students seeking computer resources. More recently, graduate students from the School of Architecture and undergraduates from the School of Industrial Design have developed architectural models and design ideas that have impacted the final plans for the new library. Additional examples of how library spaces and services have been an “applied laboratory” for campus include a partnership with Industrial Systems and Engineering (ISyE) senior design students to develop an efficient method for transporting and warehousing the print book collection from the existing space in Crosland Tower into the new Library Service Center of Emory University and Georgia Tech. Finally, a group of Computational Media students have recently developed a library “space availability” app as part of their senior design project.
Importantly, these course project collaborations with the library often develop into new systems, tools and services available for all library users. These are not simply hypothetical course projects with the library as the subject, but instead result in actual change for the millions of virtual and in-person visits to the library.
The new library creates an unprecedented opportunity to develop engaging and inspiring exhibits about sustainability with the campus community. Libraries have always provided collections and spaces suitable for serendipitous inspiration and, with the Library Next project, the GT user community now has a canvas upon which to inspire users to learn more about sustainability in all its forms.