University of Calgary’s library more than just a place to house books

Taylor Family Digital Library. Photo by Ewan Nicholson.

Taylor Family Digital Library. Photo credit by Ewan Nicholson.

I toured the University of Calgary’s Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) today. The library opened in 2011 and is one of the most state-of-the-art research and learning libraries in Canada.

University librarian Tom Hickerson toured me around the library’s six floors as a proud father might do. Tom had every right to feel this pride since he had led the programmatic design of the TFDL several years ago. As he led me from top to bottom floor of the library, I sensed Tom’s fulfillment in seeing a personal dream come to life. The Library is his labour of love.

The TFDL includes all the facilities of a modern library and more. I sensed that it also serves the students as a sort of community centre.

While the top floors of the library are quiet for study, the noise level picks up as you descend. There is animated conversation as students work together on projects in open areas and consult with mentors.

The library facility that most captured my attention was the Visualization Studio on the 4th floor. This studio features a wall that is entirely a projection screen – 9600 pixels across by 3600 pixels tall. The wall is illuminated by 15 computers and rear-projectors. Large data sets can be visualized by a research team in a single view or the intricacies of an image (e.g. an ancient scroll) can be studied in detail.

Derek Beaulieu, Calgary's Poet Laureate, discusses his visual poem Prose of the Trans-Canada (Bookthug, 2011) and how the poem was crafted with an eye towards cartography and contemporary graphic design. The poem was projected on the high-resolution screen in the Visualization Studio of the Taylor Family Digital Library. Photo by Dave Brown

Derek Beaulieu, Calgary’s Poet Laureate, discusses his visual poem Prose of the Trans-Canada (Bookthug, 2011) and how the poem was crafted with an eye towards cartography and contemporary graphic design. The poem was projected on the high-resolution screen in the Visualization Studio of the Taylor Family Digital Library. Photo by Dave Brown

I would consider using the Visualization Studio in the future to give a public presentation of one of my space missions. The studio is not large, but display of large-scale images might give viewers more of the impression that astronauts experience in space. Send me a comment (below) if you think we should give this a try.

The ground floor of the TFDL hosts the Nickle Galleries. Chief Curator Christine Sowiak led me through the Galleries’ current Oh Canada exhibition. I had met Christine several months ago when she helped me select a couple of artworks from the Nickle collection to display on the walls of my office.

2 thoughts on “University of Calgary’s library more than just a place to house books

  1. Hello Dr. Thirsk,
    I think giving a public presentation about one of your space missions in the Visualization Studio is a great idea! Although I am a student at the University of Calgary and use TFDL regularly, I have never been to the Visualization Studio before and did not know about it until reading your article. A presentation about one of your missions would be an exciting opportunity for the public to learn about your experiences as an astronaut and a great opportunity to showcase the resources we have available at the University, such as the Visualization Studio. As you said, using the studio to display large-scale images might indeed give viewers more of the impression that astronauts experience in space, so it is an amazing resource that would add on to the presentation.
    Thanks!
    Alina

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