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Scholars' Lab

We focus on experimental scholarship in all disciplines, informed by digital humanities, spatial technologies, and cultural heritage approaches.

What is the Scholars' Lab?

 

 

The Scholars’ Lab is the UVA Library’s lab for the practice of experimental scholarship in all disciplines, informed by digital humanities, spatial technologies, and cultural heritage approaches.

We offer mentoring, collaboration, and a supportive community experience for anyone curious about learning to push disciplinary and methodological boundaries through digital approaches. We’re foremost a space for learning together—about anything—by trying stuff. Think of us as friends and colleagues who can help you teach yourself new ways of approaching your interests.

We are an internationally recognized scholarly team, with strengths including:

  • the digital humanities (as a founding member of Centernet, an international network of digital humanities centers)
  • research & development (e.g. the theory and practice of: text/image mining, network analysis, machine learning, digital edition and digital archive creation)
  • GIS, geospatial data collection, & other spatial technologies
  • cultural heritage informatics (including photogrammetry, 3D scanning, and modeling of artifacts and historic architecture; and exploring virtual reality and augmented reality approaches to this data)
  • pedagogy, training, & mentorship in the digital humanities and spatial technologies, practiced with our formally- and informally-supported students and faculty each year
  • makerspaces and making as scholarship
  • librarianship (e.g. expert research, metadata, and intellectual property consultations from across the UVA Library that make experimental scholarly projects possible)

The SLab also hosts community events (like workshops and a popular lecture series) in our library spaces, and helps to train and mentor the next generation of digital humanities scholar-practitioners through our Graduate Fellowships in Digital Humanities and innovative Praxis Program.

We capture the Scholars’ Lab’s ethos of collaborative, thoughtful project development and community support in our team-authored charter.

How can you contact us?

You are invited to stop by the Scholars' Lab anytime; our staff are in Alderman 415. We host Open Office Hours every Wednesday from 10:00-11:30 a.m. throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. You are also welcome to email with questions or to schedule an appointment.

For general inquiries, write to scholarslab@virginia.edu.

For questions about spatial technologies and cultural heritage informatics, contact spatial@virginia.edu.

For GIS-specific questions, contact uvagis@virginia.edu.

For inquiries about our Makerspace, write to slabmakerspace@virginia.edu.

We are also on Twitter @scholarslab.

How can the Scholars’ Lab fit into your work?

1) Consults: As a UVA Library unit, we follow the model of reference librarian consultations and welcome everyone in the UVA community to meet with us for a brief consultation session around experimental methods. During your consult, we can help you:

  • get started practicing experimental methods via the digital humanities, spatial technologies, and/or cultural heritage scholarship scholarly communities, e.g. connecting you to resources for self-teaching and our scholarly networks at UVA and internationally
  • conceptualize and scope a project
  • create or find, manage, and use data
  • use our GIS software, virtual/augmented reality equipment, or our Makerspace
  • review your ongoing work, such as critiquing your design and code

2) Collaboration: As scholars from a variety of disciplines, we also have some availability for more in-depth research or pedagogical collaborations with other UVA folks. Our decisions about longer-term research collaboration are based on the resources, skills, and interests/mission of all parties. We would start with a consult, and those may lead to ongoing instruction, additional consultations, or long-term collaborations.

3) Community Lab: In addition to the consultations and collaborations stated above, much of our time for in-depth work is spent on intentional community design…

  • Providing GIS, Makerspace, and VR software support to the entire university
  • Innovating the mentorship and teaching of experimental approaches to scholarship, both in the library and in the field
  • Piloting future Library and UVA initiatives like our Praxis Program (one of the historic UVA DH strengths behind the new DH graduate certificate)
  • Bringing speakers to Grounds, hosting events, teaching workshops series; sponsoring student- and faculty-run events; weekly Open Office Hours that anyone can join
  • A email newsletter publicizing opportunities (If you're interested, sign up in the Contact Us box on the front page of https://scholarslab.lib.virginia.edu/)

…and on strengthening existing cutting-edge staff expertise:

  • Innovating 3D cultural heritage data gathering, modeling, preservation, and scholarship
  • Public Makerspace innovating research and teaching with 3D printing, electronics, fabric arts, and other scholarly making
  • Advancing the Library’s values via internal collaborations (e.g. building tools to preserve the record of major campus events with Preservation and Special Collections colleagues)
  • Internal research shaping the scholarly fields we’re part of (e.g. developing our Neatline tool for critical storytelling in time and space) and connecting UVA folks to these fields

Does Scholars' Lab staff build projects for you?

We strongly believe investment in the direct practice of experimental methods is the key to transformative experiences for individual scholars, as well as the best leveraging of our resources on behalf of UVA. Therefore, we are committed to teaching, and building things with people (e.g. as peer scholars, and co-PIs on grant proposals) rather than solely for people.

  • As a Library unit, we follow the model of reference librarian consultations and welcome everyone in the UVA community to meet with us for brief consultation sessions around experimental methods.
  • As scholars from a variety of disciplines, we also have availability for more in-depth research or pedagogical collaborations with other scholars. Our decisions about longer-term research collaboration are based on the resources, skills, and interests/mission of all parties, and are usually an outgrowth of shorter consultations and/or Scholars' Lab and Library community involvement.
  • We do our best to help folks stuck on technical questions during our regular Open Office Hours, and are happy to refer to expertise and facilities around UVA (e.g. DH@UVA, Research Data Services, Teaching & Learning team, Data Sciences Institute, IATH), or recommend developer and consultants at UVA and beyond seeking paid work (if you’re looking for a developer for-hire).

What academic fields do you support?

Although we bring library, digital humanities, spatial technologies, & cultural heritage skills to almost everything we work on, we are open and welcoming to folks in any discipline working in any field, and we regularly collaborate in almost every area on Grounds. An inexhaustive list of who we’ve worked with on Grounds includes folks from Biology, Environmental Science, Nursing, Media Studies, Music, Religious Studies, Spanish, Slavic, German, French, Classics, English, History, Law, Art History, Architecture, and GIS/spatial tech support across Grounds.

Where is the Scholars' Lab?

Our Hours & Spaces page has more information on our physical spaces as well as maps helping you navigate to us.

We’re in Alderman Library, which is on UVA’s Central Grounds: just west of the Rotunda and chapel, and just east of Nameless Field and those tennis courts. We’re the west wing of Alderman’s fourth (main) floor, the same floor you enter on. Turn left and walk past Greenberry’s coffee shop and a water fountain to find the Scholars’ Lab staff offices, then turn right to find our Common Area (including Makerspace and Open Office Hours area), Alderman 421 (electronic classroom), and Alderman 423 (smaller classroom).

Our cultural heritage informatics experts, Will Rourk and Arin Bennett, are currently seated on the third floor of Clemons Library, which is just southwest of Alderman; if you’re standing on the Alderman front steps facing south, turn right (you’ll pass the Harrison-Small Special Collections building, which has rockers on a front porch), then walk past the Aviator Statue and the outdoor terrace to find Clemons’ front doors. Inside Clemons, turn right to find the elevator/stairwell; after entering the 3rd floor, turn right and walk past the DML lab area to find their offices (Will and Arin request folks email them first for an appointment, as they are not always working from their desks).