By Markus Wust
Welcome back to the Immersive Scholar blog!
By now you have probably read the posts by two of our partner institutions--Brown University and the University of California, Berkeley --describing the projects they will be working on during the duration of the "Visualizing Digital Scholarship in Libraries and Learning Spaces" (aka "Immersive Scholar") initiative. Posts from Indiana University Bloomington, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Virginia Commonwealth University will follow over the next couple of weeks. If you now ask yourself what NCSU Libraries has contributed--and will contribute until the grant's conclusion in Summer 2020--wonder no more: following is an outline of past and planned activities by NCSU Libraries and a discussion of what we hope to achieve through Immersive Scholar.
After having been awarded the grant in Spring 2017, we began work on the Immersive Scholar website that you see here. You can also come here to find the latest news about Immersive Scholar (or follow us on Twitter: @ImmersivScholar) and the site will serve as an access point to all resources generated as part of the grant. The actual products, such as code, documentation, etc. will reside in external repositories; we are currently in the process of selecting the most suitable ones. At the same time, we reached out to local and external visualization experts to ask whether they would be willing to serve on our advisory committee. We are very grateful that they agreed to support our project and donate their time. Once we had built some of the foundation for the project, we posted a Call for Proposals for partner institutions who--through a variety of local projects as well as collaborations with each other--would help us build the technical, social, and organizational infrastructure that would be one of the main outcomes of this grant. The selection of the final partners list was not easy since we received many strong applications but with the help of our advisory committee we could narrow down the list to the five above-mentioned institutions (you can find the cohort profiles at https://immersivescholar.org/cohort-profiles).
The next milestone was a workshop that we held at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on NC State's Centennial Campus. As one of the goals for Immersive Scholar is building a community of practice around immersive technology in learning spaces, the workshop was a great opportunity for all the partner institutions to get to know each other and to discuss the challenges and opportunities these technologies offer. Thank you to everybody who came to Raleigh and to all our colleagues and members of the advisory panel who made the workshop possible! You can read more about the workshop and find links to the workshop program and notes at https://immersivescholar.org/news/report-immersive-scholar-cohort-workshop.
Another important component of Immersive Scholar which is unique to the NCSU Libraries is a series of creative residencies where we invite artists, scholars, and technologists to the NC State campus. Their works will, as the Call for Proposals indicates, "interrogate the intersections of data, knowledge, and culture through visual expression." The Immersive Scholar residents will also interact with students and faculty, e.g., through workshops; and all projects will be open-sourced and assigned licenses that encourage their re-use at other institutions. As with the call for partner institutions, this call for proposals elicited many intriguing responses. We hope to announce the list of successful applicant(s) shortly, so stay tuned!
Ongoing project activities include:
Annual reports to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Regular check-ins with partner institutions.
Presentations at conferences.
For the last major milestone for Immersive Scholar, the NCSU Libraries will, for the second time, host Liberact, a participatory conference on the interaction of users and technology in libraries and museums. It will serve as an opportunity for all project participants to come together again and introduce their contributions to the wider community. The event is currently planned for October 2019. For a complete project roadmap see http://go.ncsu.edu/immersivescholarroadmap.
By the time the grant concludes in April 2020, we hope to achieve two primary goals:
Create the foundation for a sustainable community around visualization environments and the scholarship they produce.
Build tools that make it easier for institutions to implement and maintain such environments.
We invite you to participate in the process, e.g., by following our blog and Twitter feed. If you have questions about Immersive Scholar, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.