Prior to the opening of the Learning Commons, the Libraries were piloting a digital Media Lab in the PCL to gauge how useful students would find certain hardware and software in service of their personal and academic creative work.
The diminutive 14-seat pilot helped to guide the development of the robust new 44-unit strong Media Lab that opened as part of the new Learning Commons last Tuesday, and, thus far, its central and very visible location has attracted even greater attention and use than was imagined.
Even during the pilot phase, though, the lab was earning a the loyalties of regular users, many of whom are students in departments that don’t necessary provide access to all of the tools or resources that can help to ballast student productivity.
We discovered one such student through the approval process for filming in PCL, which is a pretty regular occurrence, especially with members of the RTF and Communications programs at the university.
Nate Jackson is a Communications senior at UT who wanted to shoot a short film on synesthesia for a Journalism Portfolio summer class using the 5th floor stacks in PCL as a backdrop. As is the case with almost every request to use Libraries facilities for class projects, Jackson received approval, and enthusiastically agreed to share the finished work with us upon completion so that we could highlight alternate student uses of the libraries.
After viewing the finished product — which coincided with the preparations for the Learning Commons opening — and being extremely impressed with the quality and skill it exhibited, we reached out to Nate to find out if, in addition to serving as a location for his film, he might also have used the Media Lab at PCL as a resource in the process of creating it. As it turns out, that was indeed the case; Jackson used the tools provided by the Libraries to edit and record voice-overs for the project.
Nate graciously indulged us by participating in the opening of the Learning Commons, where he and his co-creator of the film project Erin Kedzie talked to attendees to the event about the process of making the film and the value of the resources in the Media Lab to their classwork and creative projects.
“Being able to go any time the PCL is open and having this software available works really well for me because I can’t afford this computer software on my own,” Jackson recently told the Daily Texan.
Jackson and Kedzie are just one story in a massive community of talented students on the Forty Acres who have the opportunity to succeed because the Libraries are finding ways to provide resources that level the playing field for everyone, regardless of program or personal resources.