PROPOSAL: This case study examines the transition of a “Media Lab” to a “Digital Scholarship Center” in the new library at Princeton Theological Seminary. It explores the questions: What does it mean to intentionally change from one kind of digital space to another? Does the digital space’s presence in a theological library present any special challenges or opportunities?
The shift at Princeton was driven by a variety of internal and external shifts, including the construction of a new library building, the restructuring of the seminary’s IT and library departments, a strengthened institutional emphasis on both student digital fluency and alum lifelong learning, and the need to respond to shifts in scholarly tools, production habits and an evolving curriculum.
The Digital Scholarship Center’s conceptual framework, physical and programmatic design, assessment and management approaches are each explored. Conceptually, the DSC moves away from a space-centric “lab” orientation, which possessed a sole emphasis on audio/visual editing and production, to a “center” orientation, providing a suite of physical open spaces and project rooms, programs (workshops, tutorials, Digital Humanities lunches), services (technology choices, pilot projects), and curriculum engagements (new two-credit Digital Humanities course). Shifts in management (reorganization, shifting schedules, growth of student peer trainers) and assessment (use and impact data gathering) approaches to the new center are also outlined. Finally, the Digital Scholarship Center’s presence in a seminary library provides a unique space to explore themes popular in current discussions about theological libraries such as hospitality and engagement.