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Digital Scholarship Lab First of Its Kind in U.S.

Designed for multi-disciplinary use, Michigan State University’s Digital Scholarship Lab is the first in the United States to have an Igloo Vision visualization cylinder, which provides a shared experience in which multiple people can work together while surrounded by a fully immersive 360-degree projection screen.

Set to open Feb. 5, MSU’s visualization cylinder can accommodate up to 15 people at a time and will offer flexible, engaging and collaborative applications for all disciplines in teaching, learning and research.

MSU Libraries and the College of Arts & Letters partnered to build the 10,000-square-foot Digital Scholarship Lab, which, in addition to the 360-degree immersive visualization room, will feature a virtual reality room with VR headsets, instruction space, meeting rooms, offices and a dedicated room for digitization projects.

The VR headsets will include two Oculus Rifts and two HTC Vives. There also will be workstations throughout the lab with high-speed computers and software to support sophisticated design and data analysis and to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration.

“Located at the heart of campus, our students and faculty now have access to a state-of-the-art facility that elevates our widely recognized strengths in the digital arts and humanities,” said Christopher P. Long, dean of MSU’s College of Arts & Letters. “This unique space affords students and faculty access to equipment and experiences unavailable anywhere else in U.S. higher education. This space represents the power of collaboration and will be a destination for the best faculty and students at MSU and across the globe.”

For example, in the immersive visualization room, history classes can use Google Street View to explore architecture from around the world in just a few clicks; art history classes can perform an archaeological dig from the lab; interior designers can make their designs come to life; and game developers can develop and display their video games in a fully immersive environment.

Students and faculty across MSU will be able to use the advanced and graphics-intensive computing software and interactive visualization for research projects and scholarly exploration. The Digital Scholarship Lab also brings together collections, resources, tools and expertise all in one place.

“The workstations, the digitization and the virtual reality are all available to differing degrees at places across campus, but we’re bringing them into one space and making them more available through longer hours, a dedicated service point and consultations,” said Terence O’Neill, head of digital scholarship and makerspace services at MSU Libraries. “The Digital Scholarship Lab will be a place for specialized groups across campus to learn from one another and create a community around digital scholarship.”

Located on 2-West of MSU’s Main Library, the Digital Scholarship Lab initially will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. To meet the educational and research needs of the MSU community, the library plans to expand the lab’s hours after spring break, which is scheduled for March 5-9.

Details on open consultation or making an appointment can be found on the Digital Scholarship Lab website.

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