Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ball State University Libraries’ Ongoing Collaboration with Center for Middletown Studies Promotes Learning, Teaching, and Research

Ball State University Libraries seeks to support the learning, teaching, and research missions of Ball State University through collaboration with academic units.

One long-standing example of this type of collaborative work has been the relationship between the Center for Middletown Studies and the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections.

Archives and Special Collections personnel serve as ex-officio members of the Advisory Board for the Center for Middletown Studies. At the fall meeting of the Board on December 10, 2007, evidence of the ongoing collaboration between the two units was highlighted in several ways.

Philip James Deloria, archivist for digital projects and university records, gave a presentation on a project to establish a University Libraries’ presence in Second Life, a multi-user virtual environment. The goal of the collaborative project with the Center for Middletown Studies is to create a Middletown Library and Archives, which will consist of an exhibit space and reference area showcasing Middletown Studies resources from Archives and Special Collections.

Deloria presented a tour of the virtual world of Second Life for Board members. He provided examples of compelling educational applications of the technology to present resources for students, faculty, and researchers in this virtual environment. A front page article on the University Libraries’ Second Life project appeared in the Ball State Daily News on the same day as the meeting.

Maren L. Read, archivist for manuscript collections, and John B. Straw, assistant dean for digital initiatives and special collections, reported on activities, acquisitions, outreach, and use related to Middletown research in Archives and Special Collections.

Middletown and local history materials accounted for 26% of the total use in Archives and Special Collections from June through November 2007. Two Educational Foundations classes used these resources for an immersive learning project on Washington Carver and South View elementary schools. Fourteen significant collections related to Middletown and Muncie history were added to Archives and Special Collections in the last six months.

Several new collaborative initiatives are planned between the University Libraries and the Center for Middletown Studies for the new year, including grant proposals to create a multi-dimensional Middletown Digital Teaching Archive.

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