Creating a culture of experimentation : the Studio@Butler Rockenbach, Barbara
The Studio@Butler is a space where students, faculty, librarians, and technologists come together in structured and unstructured ways to nurture a culture of exploration and interdisciplinary collaboration to solve research problems in the humanities and social sciences, share technological expertise, and generate new services and technology for the larger Columbia University community. Models for how this space is organized are the artist’s studio, the science lab, and the startup loft. These types of spaces are characterized by open, grass-roots architecture, a variety of working surfaces, the presence of projectors and whiteboards—all requirements that are inexpensive to maintain in the long term. The activities of the Studio@Butler complement the broad support services provided by the Digital Humanities Center (DHC). The DHC in the Columbia University Libraries is a space where software and peripherals are made accessible to the research community, and where faculty and students can come to receive consultation and guidance at the intersection of subject expertise and the use of technology in the humanities, The Studio@Butler builds on that foundation as a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) space for more advanced users to explore emergent technologies and emergent forms of collaboration. Where the DHC is a place of focused work—somewhere in between the quiet reading cubicle and small group-study sessions—the Studio@Butler is a place of disruption and creative ex-centricity, often involving heated debates around a whiteboard, and a place with the freedom of movement and voice needed for collaborative creation. The space has been open for two years and this presentation will focus on the projects and collaborations that have been made possible as a result of this low-tech, flexible, library-based space.
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