NOTE: This is one in a series of stories highlighting projects supported by Brock’s Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF), which was established by the University in spring 2021. AIF projects will address key priorities outlined in Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan and position the University to face the challenges of recovery from the pandemic. To read other stories in the AIF series, click here.
After several years of waiting for its own dedicated space in the newly constructed Rankin Family Pavilion, Brock University’s Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) closed just two months after opening in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the return to in-person teaching and learning last month, the Brock University Library was challenged with an awareness issue: a large percentage of Brock’s students were new to the community and may have never heard of the DSL, while others were only briefly introduced to the DSL’s new space at the beginning of 2020.
Thanks to funding from Brock’s new Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF), the Brock Library is better positioned to offer in-person services as the University recovers from the challenges presented by the pandemic.
Funding from the AIF has allowed the Brock Library to fill two important on-campus staff positions left vacant while University operations remained primarily online. One position will help build awareness of the DSL and support its daily functions, while the other will offer important on-campus student and researcher support in the Library’s Access Services department.
The DSL Operations Co-ordinator is a 10-month contract position that will facilitate the daily operational functions of the DSL, which is located on the ground floor of the Rankin Family Pavilion. Included in the innovative and modern space are eight high-performance computers for faculty and student researchers to use for managing, analyzing and visualizing data.
In addition to organizing workshops, consulting with student and faculty researchers, and managing a staff of student employees, the DSL Operations Co-ordinator will help promote DSL offerings through community outreach and communications.
“The DSL Operations Co-ordinator is the backbone of the DSL operations,” said Mark Robertson, University Librarian. “We lost some momentum through the pandemic with the space, so we essentially need to reintroduce the DSL’s physical space and services to the campus community and welcome back users.”
When University services pivoted to online offerings, the DSL followed suit and found success. In addition to attracting members of the on-campus community, people from outside the country attended free workshops on topics such as data analysis and visualization.
Robertson expects online workshops will continue throughout the Fall Term, but anticipates a hybrid model will be introduced to attract faculty and students to the DSL’s physical space.
“The DSL space provides some hardware that students and researchers may not otherwise have access to,” he said. “The technology and tools offered are often used by researchers, but they can also be used to build pedagogy and enhance the student learning experience.”
The second Library role funded through the AIF is an eight-month Circulation Assistant position with the Library’s Access Services team.
Andrew Colgoni, Associate University Librarian, said with the Library offering its full hours and remaining open until as late as 11 p.m., it’s important there is staff on site to support students’ and researchers’ needs.
“It’s a big service portfolio,” he said. “The Circulation Assistant opens the James A. Gibson Library and ensures our spaces are welcoming and safe. They help students with research questions, troubleshoot technology and printing, and support access to course readings and all of our information resources.”
Both Library positions are focused on supporting students and faculty members on campus while continuing to offer hybrid and online support and offerings.
To learn more about the Brock University Library and its resources and services, visit brocku.ca/library
More information on the Digital Scholarship Lab can be found at brocku.ca/library/dsl