Penn State opens “Maker Commons”

New 3D printing lab, called the Maker Commons, also houses the Invention Studio.

A new 3-D printing lab in Penn State’s University Libraries is now open, giving Penn State students and faculty at all campuses the opportunity to dream up, design and print almost anything. The lab, called the Maker Commons, houses a large-scale printing installation of 32 MakerBot desktop 3-D printers as well as the Invention Studio, where University Park students can use littleBits for rapid prototyping of devices, and offers consultants to answer questions and help with projects.

Although the Maker Commons is housed within Pattee Library’s Knowledge Commons at the University Park campus, students from all Penn State campus locations, including the Penn State World Campus, can send projects to the 3-D printers via Students can upload their designs, and each will be added to the queue of projects waiting to be printed. When a print request is complete, it will be sent via the same delivery system used for intercampus library materials requests, and can be picked up at the appropriate campus library’s main desk, such as Pattee Library’s Commons Services desk at University Park.

Joseph Salem, the University Libraries’ associate dean for Learning, Undergraduate Services and Commonwealth Campus Libraries, says the lab will give students from all disciplines the chance to bring their ideas to life, regardless of whether they have experience with 3-D printing or not. “I’m excited that the Libraries is showcasing this new space where students across the University can create, innovate and collaborate,” Salem said. “This will be a game-changer for design and invention at Penn State.”…Read More

Open textbooks gain in push for college affordability

Open textbooks are growing in popularity as university administrators see them as a way to increase affordability

open-sourceThe standard textbook for Fundamentals of General Chemistry I at the University of Connecticut has a list price of $303. For students who use the version professor Edward Neth is preparing for the fall semester, the cost will be zero.

An early adopter of open source textbooks, Neth said he turned to the new technology out of frustration with spiraling prices of commercial textbooks.

“It’s seeing the costs go up every semester and almost feeling powerless,” Neth said.…Read More

Hampshire earns $1.2M to reinvent college library

Grant will help establish the college library as central to campus learning

college-libraryHampshire College’s leaders are invoking the spirit of experimentation that founded the College as they launch a far-reaching initiative to establish the college library as the hub of campus learning and a model for higher education. And a major foundation has endorsed the plan by awarding the College a $1.2 million grant to fund it.

Hampshire has earned the grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in response to the College’s proposal, titled Learning Commons 3.0, for the reinvention of the Harold F. Johnson Library.

Hampshire’s project team will use the funds to develop service models and to modernize and transform the library into an integrated hub of content, tools, and services in support of the College’s curriculum.…Read More

Faculty: Why should we collaborate with campus librarians?

A new report details significant barriers to communication and collaboration between librarians and faculty…and why it matters.


More than 20 percent of surveyed faculty say there is no need for campus librarians and faculty to consult each other on course resources.

This finding is one of many revelatory highlights part of a new survey on campus libraries, revealing that greater collaboration and communication are needed between librarians and faculty in order to maximize their effectiveness and improve learning outcomes for students.…Read More

Up next for textbooks? The bionic book

Penn State develops new technology to create robot-written textbooks.

robot-textbooksA new technology developed at Penn State works with faculty to automatically build complete textbooks from open resources on the web. The texts are organized according to topics and keywords provided by a user.

The system is helping to usher in a new genre of media: the bionic book.

The tool, called BBookX, can be used to create a variety of media, ranging from study guides to textbooks. To begin, users fill in a digital table of contents — assigning each chapter a topic with text or as many related keywords or key phrases as they’d like. Using matching algorithms, BBookX then returns text, and users can keep the chapters as they are or mix with content of their own.…Read More

The library of Alexandria goes virtual for online scholarship

A virtual repository aims to bring students together with an array of digitally-accessible material.

virtual-libraryThe ancient Egyptians would be proud: With the increasing proliferation of online lesson plans and learning resources, virtual worlds are collaborating to build a virtual Library of Alexandria for higher education.

The repository, aptly called Alexandria, is a Linden-based virtual library created to offer reference materials to support learning activities.

An article describing the virtual library, written by researcher Joseph M. Graham and Eva Comaroski of Wizardry and Steamworks Consulting Group, describes the library as a way of storing content digitally to eliminate burdens associated with costs, potential damage to physical books, and risks of losing a book. This method also helps preserve materials and avoids physical deterioration of the materials.…Read More

University launches mobile library navigation app

Mobile app uses Aruba Beacons, Meridian App Platform to offer users turn-by-turn navication and collaborative content for OU Libraries System

OU-appThe University of Oklahoma (OU) has deployed Aruba Networks Aruba Beacons and the Aruba Meridian Mobile App Platform to deliver a new mobile app that helps students, faculty and visitors navigate the OU Libraries, exhibits and other Norman Campus landmarks.

The OU NavApp provides turn-by-turn directions and location-based and educational content for more than 1 million visits annually.

Following a successful proof of concept in the library’s Peggy V. Helmerich Collaborative Learning Center, the university decided to expand its deployment to its entire seven-floor, 400,000 square foot OU Libraries system as well as other highly-visited attractions on campus including The National Weather Center, Fred Jones Museum and Sam Noble Natural History Museum.…Read More

Reinventing the college bookstore in the online era

Leaders discuss how the college bookstore is becoming a tech-enabled, data-rich cornerstone of campus life.

college-bookstore-onlineThey still sell t-shirts for proud parents and coffee mugs with catchy slogans, but college bookstores are also going through a renaissance of sorts, using technology-supported measures to become an integral cornerstone of campus life.

It’s what Ed Schlichenmayer, deputy CEO of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), and chief operating officer (COO) of indiCo (a NACS subsidiary), calls a system based on trust equity.

Despite booming online marketplaces for college textbooks–like Amazon, CourseSmart and—“75 percent of course material transactions stay with the college bookstore,” said Schlichenmayer. “And that’s based on the trust equity they’ve built throughout the entire campus community.”…Read More

Do libraries matter in distance education?

Academics discuss the changing roles of campus libraries and librarians in the online education era.


[Editor’s note: Edits have been made to reflect changes in lead author citation, as well as professional title.]

With the explosion of distance education, librarianship is changing from managing books to connecting people and quality resources while at the same time delivering resources effectively and providing the best customer service possible.…Read More

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