Digital Scholarship Lab

Frequently Asked Questions

The Digital Scholarship Lab at MSU Library will feature several cutting-edge technologies that will be new to many scholars, faculty, researchers, and librarians. It will also feature infrastructure and support for more known digital practices like scanning/digitizing, text-mining, and data management.

As this exciting space launches, many of our campus partners are wondering how they might use the lab. This FAQ will briefly answer some of our most popular questions.

Who can use the lab space?

The Lab space will be open to any MSU campus community member as well as community visitors. Most if not all computers in the space will require a MSU campus login, but everyone from students to faculty to visiting researchers are encouraged to visit and use the Lab.

Some examples of Digital Scholarship work happening day-to-day might include:

  • An undergraduate student uses the high-performance computers to access graphic modeling software that’s normally only available on dedicated machines from 9 to 5.
  • A faculty member who is developing an environmental justice video game can use software in the high-performance space to make the actual code for the game, and then preview the work in progress using either VR headsets or in The 360. What formerly had to be done across multiple spaces or inefficiently on her personal machine, can be accomplished in one space, much more efficiently.
  • A graduate student doing genealogical research on a huge dataset meets with the Data Management Librarian to get help creating a digital model of their network they can navigate using software like Cytoscape. After a few meetings, and some training by the Data Management Librarian, the student creates their own network. This network can ultimately be displayed and navigated through using The 360 visualization space. Having transformed their dataset from a non-visually meaningful database, the graduate student how has a rich, navigable environment with visually observable connections.
  • A subject specialist Librarian and faculty member work with a Digital Scholarship Librarian to develop a well-defined digital project for students to do as an end of semester assignment option, using Library Repository materials as the primary content.

Can I reserve the spaces?

Yes! The Digital Scholarship Lab will offer a variety of reservable spaces including 3 group meeting rooms outfitted with digital displays for collaborative work.

Spaces like The 360, the Virtual Reality room with HTC and Vive headsets, the high-performance computing workshop space, and the digitizing aka scanning project room will be reservable, both for one-time use as well as recurring events like classes. When not reserved, these spaces will be open for use.

Because of the complicated and complex nature of these technologies, spaces like The 360, the Virtual Reality room, and the scanning project room, will, most likely, require a check-in in with the Lab Desk to access.

Spaces like the high-performance computing workshop space will be open for students and community members to use except during workshops or special events.

How can I learn more about the new technologies?

The MSU Digital Scholarship team will be offering a variety of ways to learn about the new technologies in the lab space. Currently in the works are: daily tours (during opening week) of the lab and attendant technologies once installed, monthly workshops focusing on topics like VR and Pedagogy that will focus on easy to implement assignments and suggestions for courses, as well as targeted programming and trainings internal to MSU faculty and libraries from equipment vendors.

The Digital Scholarship Lab will also be the new home to our ongoing Open Consultation hours, which provides time for one-on-one consultation on a wide array of Digital Scholarship Topics.

The Lab will also be home to the newly launched Data Visualization Speaker series, which is a monthly series, Fridays at 12pm, that centers on innovative and intriguing work by MSU faculty and researchers on visualization writ large.

Folks interested in more one-on-one mentoring and training can work with the Digital Scholarship Librarians to identify and develop specific skills, as well as additional library, faculty, and campus partners to engage. Faculty (including and especially Librarians!) are especially encouraged to get in touch, as there is much ground to be covered in selecting apps and the virtual reality experiences that should be featured.

What spaces will be available exclusively for College of Arts and Letters faculty and researchers?

As key stakeholders and founding partners in the Digital Scholarship Lab, a devoted “hoteling” office space is envisioned for CAL faculty and researchers. This dedicated office space will feature lockable storage, and will allow CAL stakeholders and practitioners to have a home away from home in the new Digital Scholarship space.

We envision this space being used as a home base for CAL faculty working with the lab spaces such as the VR and The 360, as well as a collaborative and productive space in its own right.

I already have a digital scholarship project started. How can the lab help me?

Our mission at the Digital Scholarship Lab is to support projects in all stages of development. For work already underway, the Lab offers exciting opportunities to re-visualize your datasets, to enhance your publication with stunning visualizations rendered in Google Earth, to offering exciting and interesting ways to present final results. We can also help you conceptualize where your current project fits in the Digital Scholarship landscape as a whole, and provide advice on publication and preservation of your work.

I’m brand new to digital scholarship but am interested in integrating it into my coursework or research but am not sure how to start. How can the lab help me?

Fantastic! A key focus of the upcoming programming in the Digital Scholarship Lab will be workshops and talks on Digital Scholarship and pedagogy, with an emphasis on easy “plug-and-play” assignments to start. You’re also invited to partner with our Digital Scholarship Lab team to work on-one-one with our Digital Scholarship Librarians to develop custom assignments that suit your classes or research efforts needs.

I have a great idea for a new digital project but don’t know where to get started.

In addition to being a workspace, the Digital Scholarship Lab will also be an incubator for nascent ideas. The easiest way to get started is visit our Open Consultation Hours or make an appointment with one of our Digital Scholarship Librarians to get you started.

This FAQ is a changing document that represents our best answers to these common questions as of 2/12/2018. We know and expect some of this information to change.