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Thursday, July 18, 2024

21st-century library opens at Ball State University

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Schwartz Complex features international broadcasts, revolutionary technology

MUNCIE, Ind. — Another feature of the 21st-century library opened to the public with a Aug. 17 dedication ceremony in Ball State’s Bracken Library. The Helen B. and Martin D. Schwartz Special Collections and Digital Complex contains several features designed to encourage collaboration and innovation through digital technology.

The complex is divided into three areas. The digital gallery includes a Microsoft Surface computer, available for use by students, faculty and the community. The Surface is a multi-user, multi-touch tabletop screen without mouse or keyboard. Users have the ability to grab, resize, and manipulate images on the screen.

The Surface is networked to holdings in the library’s Archives and Special Collections, including rare books and documents, artworks from the Museum of Art, and photographs of the Wheeler Orchid Collection and Species Bank, among many others. As these images are accessed by the computer, they also can be displayed on one or all of the four large flat-screen digital televisions in the gallery.

Another room contains digital learning pods, with high-powered computers for instructional use and collaboration on class projects, including documentary films. In addition, the complex holds the digital archives viewing room and digital newsstand. In addition to being able to access the digital holdings of the Archives and Special Collections, the display is enabled to receive television channels from around the world, including networks from Saudi Arabia, China, India and Korea. As many as six different newscasts can be displayed at once.

“We are in an era of breathtaking technological advancement, and we have committed ourselves to not only keeping up, but in fact leading the way in digital accessibility,” said Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora. “The spirit that drives us at Ball State to pioneer new ways of learning in higher education and to explore blossoming technologies is the same one that drives us to expand the accessibility of our library holdings to anyone in the world.”

The complex is the latest in a long series of gifts to Ball State by Martin D. Schwartz. This one was given in memory of his wife, Helen. A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Schwartz graduated cum laude from Harvard and earned his master’s degree from Ball State in 1962. He later taught part-time in the university’s Department of Political Science. Among his gifts to Ball State is a bronze sculpture from a Hungarian artist, funds to make prints of more than 2,000 photographic negatives taken by a local historian, his family company’s headquarters in south Muncie to become the home of the Muncie Urban Design Studio and family papers documenting the lives of a German Jewish family during World War II.

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