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Library’s new Innovation Commons empowers digital storytellers

Oct 21, 2019

Documentary filmmaker Steve Cooper.Documentary filmmaker Steve Cooper uses the library’s new Digital Wall during a recent presentation.

The first phase of the renovation of University of the Pacific's William Knox Holt Library and Learning Center opened to students in September with a new, expansive lobby and study areas and a collection of student success services. Once visitors walk through the lobby and past the new helpdesks, they enter the Innovation Commons, recently named for President Emerita Pamela Eibeck. The space is designed to provide students from all disciplines opportunities to explore, experiment and then exhibit what they’ve learned using state-of-the-art technology.

The Innovation Commons consists of four separate spaces:

  • The Experimental Exhibition Space
  • Post-production editing bays
  • The Digital Wall
  • The Cube

“Academic libraries are transforming today,” said University Librarian Mary Somerville. “Now, in addition to fulfilling traditional responsibilities for information preservation and access, we are enabling information-using and -making — in diverse formats, in many ways. At University of the Pacific, curricular integration of Innovation Commons equipment and expertise both enriches student education and advances workplace readiness.”

Experimental Exhibition Space

The 927-square-foot experimental exhibition space contains a control room and projectors facing three of the four walls.

“It’s a space that’s set up for art/media/design exhibitions, something you would see in a contemporary art museum or a science museum,” said Media X department chair Kevin Pontuti.

The space will showcase student, faculty and staff multimedia projects. Off-campus projects will also be curated. In fact, the first exhibition was for a talk by documentary filmmaker Steve Cooper, who directed a film about last year’s wildfire that destroyed the town of Paradise, California. He was impressed by the facility.

“It looks like a space I would see at any massive university with art endowments. It’s beautiful and authentic,” Cooper said.

Media X major Ramesh Borad believes it provides the perfect atmosphere for creative work.

“It has a really peaceful and artistic vibe to it,” he said.  “It’s very minimalistic, so when you walk in, you’re already in that work setting.”

Exhibition Space

Media X Department Chair Kevin Pontuti speaks with University Librarian Mary Somerville in the new experimental exhibition space.

Post-Production Editing Bays

Just around the corner from the exhibition space are four new editing bays — one specifically set up for sound editing. Each bay has a fast, high-powered computer with programs for post-production, color grading, sound mixing and visual effects.

Students, staff and faculty who want to use the bays will need to be certified first and submit their projects to Media X for approval. The post-productions bays will be managed like a working, professional studio.

“Those bays really aim for high-end projects and the workflow will mimic the experience you would have working in a San Francisco or L.A. post-house,” Pontuti said.

Digital Wall

On the south wall of the Innovation Commons is a high-resolution, digital display system featuring a 100-inch interactive touchscreen monitor. The system includes a podium with audiovisual connections, acoustically treated ceiling and overhead speakers.

 “The Digital Wall provides a dynamic, interactive digital display system for students to showcase their projects, faculty to use it as open teaching space and staff to exhibit their creative projects,” said Associate University Librarian for Organizational Innovation Niraj Chaudhary. “We hope the Digital Wall will cultivate an environment of discovery, collaboration and exploration in teaching and learning with technology at Pacific.”

Classes and campus groups can reserve the wall for lectures, presentations and events. The Digital Wall will also be used to showcase interactive projects including 360-degree videos and virtual reality experiences.

The Cube

The glass-walled digital maker space known as The Cube has been relocated and expanded to provider greater access to technology and expertise for digital projects.

Among the services The Cube offers are virtual reality production, 3D printing, drone services, audio/video editing, 3D scanning, computer-aided design, large-format printing (up to 42 inches wide) and workshops. Planned service expansions include laser cutting, model and mold making, vinyl cutting and small-scale CNC machining.

“The Cube is a space that offers students from all disciplines the opportunity to realize their creative ideas in a tangible form using some of the latest digital maker technology,” said Innovation Spaces Coordinator Jeremy Hanlon.

The Cube is open from 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Monday–Friday. To reserve time in The Cube, email cube@pacific.edu.

Anyone wishing to reserve the Digital Wall can contact Hanlon at jhanlon@pacific.edu or 209.946.3003.