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DiSCO makes technology accessible to all

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DiSCO, the Digital Scholarship Center, is a brand new multimedia space on the fourth floor of Rolvaag Memorial Library. The space is the result of a collaboration between the li- brary and the IT department that intends to provide students with equipment and training for classes as well as creative projects.

Director of DiSCO Ben Gottfried explained that the space contains a variety of new media equipment and software.

“[There is a] common collaborative work space, two media production work stations with computers that have specialized equip- ment: Adobe, Final Cut Pro, Audacity audio, software you won’t find across campus,” Gott- fried said. “There are also two recording rooms for audio and video recording that are avail- able during staff hours.”

Gottfried also spoke about the lab, which is the new home of the large format printer pre- viously found in the media lab as well as the brand new 3D printer.

“We haven’t seen much use of the 3D printer yet, but art uses it consistently for visual proj- ects, as well as a music history class where they created a model of a baroque recorder which was then put together and usable,” he said.

He emphasized that they are planning to add a 3D scanner, which would allow stu- dents to scan objects to be printed with intri- cate detail. Although there is a fee for using this equipment, students can use them for all creative endeavors, not just classroom assign- ments.

Another feature of the DiSCO space is the new computer classroom. Gottfried explained hat this space is filled with immense potential for all members of the campus community.

“It is used for teaching sessions and work- shops as well as librarian-led programs. Stu- dents are also welcome to use it whenever it is open for a collaborative workspace,” he said. “That will be the space where we will host events, regular programs and workshops for students. If students want to learn about the equipment available for check out, that is the place [to go].”

Keeping availability in mind, DiSCO’s space will be open to students for the same hours as the entire library, while the printing and audio/

video rooms will be open only during staffed hours. Check out the website, pages.stolaf.edu/ disco, for hours and more information.

Gottfried made it clear that DiSCO is for students and their creativity.

“I know what this means to have this great prime location, and see how it is already start- ing to be used by students. When we designed this space we intentionally left space available so we can design it based around what stu- dents are interested in. From the beginning we have planned to leave room for flexibility, and already we are seeing amazing things that stu- dents are doing with the space,” he said.

A common concern with new media spaces is the inevitability of the technology becom- ing outdated, but Gottfried and the DiSCO staff have kept this in mind and plan to work on keeping the space updated with the newest technology.

“The goal for DiSCO is to keep thinking to the future and being flexible and responsive to students’ interest,” assistant in the Kierkegaard Library and head of PR/Marketing Eileen Shi- mota said. “DiSCO is part of a campus wide initiative to be cutting edge on technology, and I feel strongly that DiSCO will preserve this. Not just create a space, but maintain it in a for- ward direction.”

Shimota believes that DiSCO will have a large impact on the students and campus as a whole, providing students with technology for all of their creative ideas.

“DiSCO is a real statement about St. Olaf’s commitment to thinking forward. Liberal arts institutions sometimes seem to not be catching up with technology, but St. Olaf is leading the midwest movement on technology on cam- pus,” she said.

Gottfried shares these ideas and believes the primary focus is providing for all of St. Olaf’s students.

“The intention from the beginning was that this would be a student-centric space. It is in a very accessible place in the library, and we want students to be able to play and experi- ment with technology,” Gottfried said. “We want all students to feel welcome to be creative. We are excited to see what students do with the equipment, as well as what students want more of. We plan to be very flexible.”

mattso1@stolaf.edu