Topic: University Libraries

September 11, 2009

The Schwartz Digital Complex is designed to extend the boundaries of education, collaboration and technology. The newest addition within Ball State University's Bracken Library will allow visitors to watch news broadcasts from across the globe, access digital resources and archival collections of local history, collectively explore new ideas and collaborate across disciplines.

The university is encouraging the public to take its first look at these digital innovations and more during the grand opening of the Helen B. and Martin D. Schwartz Special Collections and Digital Complex from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 17 in Bracken Library.

At 11 a.m., a free presentation, "Avatars in the Library: The Opening of the Virtual Alexander M. Bracken Library," will take place. The session will unveil the new virtual Bracken Library in the 3-D world of Second Life. The virtual library includes the Middletown Studies Library and Archives, access to digital resources, an exhibit space, and even a movie theater with a virtual popcorn stand. Presenters will discuss the planning and building of the virtual library, its potential academic uses, and the future development planned for this virtual learning environment.

A keynote presentation will follow at 1 p.m., during which members of the College of Architecture and Planning will conduct a virtual studio using Second Life, Skype, SMART AirLiner wireless slates and video conferencing. Presenters will showcase the complex's new digital learning pods.

The day's events are part of Ball State's first Tech4U event of the 2009-10 academic year. Four additional events will be scheduled over the coming academic year, with the next Tech4U scheduled for Oct. 15. Tech4U events are designed to introduce faculty and students to emerging technologies and celebrate the technical achievements of faculty as they extend the boundaries of technology and collaboration.

With the first Tech4U on the horizon, university officials are looking forward to showcasing the Schwartz Digital Complex, a place for student, faculty and the public to reach across the globe to better understand the stories and customs of world cultures through digital media.

The complex is the latest in a long series of gifts to Ball State by Martin D. Schwartz.  This one was given in memory of his wife, Helen.  A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Schwartz graduated cum laude from Harvard and earned his master's degree from Ball State in 1962. He later taught part-time in the university's Department of Political Science. 

By Gail Werner and Samantha Irons