Introducing UVic Libraries Digital Scholarship Commons – AKA The Library Makerspace

Learn – Create – Collaborate

The UVic Libraries Digital Scholarship Commons (DSC):

  • serves all disciplines & communities. 
  • Helps the community explore and express ideas in ways other than text
  • helps with data management & long-term planning.

The DSC does this by:

  • Offering free workshops for students, faculty and staff to learn new skills (3D design & printing, electronics, video editing, virtual & augmented reality, data visualization, data analysis, podcasting, website building, and more!)
  • Makes available a collaborative learning environment in the library
  • Lends tools (3D printers, electronics kits, DSLR cameras, tripods, 360 cameras, microphones, VR room, 3D scanners, and more!)
  • Offers consultation services for the tools we support.

For More information about the UVic Libraries DSC, check these resources:

Posted in education, MakerSpace, Technology, Work

Sharing Your TinkerCad Model

Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to share a TinkerCad model with someone else, or with a group. Enjoy!

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Posted in education, MakerSpace, Technology, WebApps

My Lucky 13 Years at the UVic Speakers Bureau!

A UVic Speakers Bureau photo from 2013.

I’ve been having so much fun working with my wonderful colleagues in the UVic Library Digital Scholarship Commons (or Makerspace) that my 13th year of been a member of the UVic Speakers Bureau snuck up on me! During my first year with the Bureau back in 2006, I offered three different presentations that year titled:

  • Computers for Everyone? Open Source Software Opens Possibilities
  • Disasters and Computers: How to Prepare Your Home computer for Everything from Deleted Files to Natural Disasters
  • Research and Collaboration in the 21st Century: Google vs. the Library

Currently, I receive five or six requests for talks a year, and typically a, invited to present to community groups, high school classes, school district ProD days, and units in government ministries and departments.

Telepresence Robot at a conference.

The most interesting invitation I have received over the years, was to present to the PEO, or Philanthropic Educational Organization, which is a “is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women, educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans.” They were a wonderful group, with excellent insights and questions. As the only “guy” in the room I felt out of place for only the first couple of minutes before starting my talk on best practices for backing up personal computers.

While I should probably add an Academic Makerspace related talk or two for next year, I am currently offering to present the following talks through the Speakers Bureau:

To check out all the topics offered by the UVic Speakers Bureau, check out their searchable database of talks

Teaching at a ProD day at GNS high school.
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Posted in education, Technology, Work

Sketchfab Embed Test

Just testing to see if I can embed a Sketchfab 3D model in the middle of a blog post:


Posted in Uncategorized

Inspirational Inquiry Posters for Your Classroom

Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt have made available some inspiring posters from their Inquiry Mindset book. The posters are a great reference and might be helpful to post on the wall in your classroom as a visual reminder to students about where they are in their inquiries. The posters could also be helpful when talking to students about their inquiries, to visually show them where they are in the process

Above is the Inquiry Roadmap poster. To see all 7 of the posters, go to Trevor’s website and download the high-resolution versions made for printing:


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Posted in education

Zotero Love for Google Docs – Finally!

It has been a long time coming, but the open source citation manager Zotero finally natively supports Google Docs! This means that instead of manually managing citations and bibliographies for essays and research papers, Zotero will handle it all for you saving you a huge amount of time!

Simply select your favorite or required citation style (in my case APA), and then use the Zotero plugin for your web browser to add the citation information for journal articles and website to your personal (or shared) Zotero library.  To make a bibliography, simply put your cursor in your Google Doc at the location where you would like your references to appear, and the go to the Zotero -> Add/Edit Bibliography, and BOOM, your bibliography is done!

Because Zotero is open source software it is free to download and use, and is supported by universities and libraries around the world. For more information on how Zotero works with Google Docs (and other word processors), please check out the new documentation page for Google Docs on the Zotero website: .  Below is a short video that shows how easier it is to create a bibliography in MS Word (which is very close to how it is done in Google Docs). Enjoy!

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Posted in education, Google, Open Source

Library Makerspaces: Outreach & Programming for the Whole Campus

This is a video I created for the International Symposium of Academic Makerspaces (ISAM) 2018 conference at Stanford University, in August 2018. Below is a transcript of the video.

The University of Victoria Libraries opened our Digital Scholarship Commons, or Makespace, in April of 2017 and it is a “Community + Machine space.”

We occupy 2700 sq feet of flexible space for workshops or individual making. We have 2 full-time staff members, and 4 part-time graduate student “experts”, and 4 part-time undergraduate student staff.

We don’t charge for any of our workshops or instruction, so the funding for staffing comes from a mix of reallocated base library funding, soft money, and for our graduate students, one-time provost funding for 2 years that we hope to renew.

We purchase equipment for our space with base library budget money, as well as from our annual allotment from the campus-wide Vice-President of Academic equipment fund.

We loan a wide range of tools and equipment, focusing on “cleaner & quiet” tools because of our library setting.

We offer a number of introductory workshops that students can sign up for individually, and instructors can also arrange to bring their classes to our workshops organized specifically for them.

At the ISAM 2017 at Case Western Reserve I reported in my conference paper that in the first months that we offered workshops, 55% of the registrants were women. However because our library based makerspace was new, there were lots of library staff attending which might have skewed the results.

I’m happy to report that between September 2017 and April 2018 the percentage of women participating in workshops has remained at approximately 55% which was unexpected, but wonderful! This number is in line with our University registration statistics.

There are three reasons why we think that the makeup of our workshops mirrors our university population:
1. Our makerspace is housed in the library which is traditionally common ground, without any formal attachment to male-dominated faculties or departments on campus.
2. Related to that, our space is not only open to students from all over campus, but welcomes the whole campus community, including faculty, staff, & students.
3. The workshop format is a low stakes way to be introduced to the makerspace, especially for those who are interested but don’t have a project in mind.

To explore each of these three points, I interviewed a student who used our Makerspace workshops and tools to help her create a prototype of a biodegradable glow stick.

Paige Whitehead is a 3rd-year Microbiology and Environmental studies student who loves music festivals but doesn’t like all the garbage they create, especially the toxic chemicals in almost all glow sticks. I interviewed Paige to talk to her about how our Library Makespace helped her with her biodegradable glow stick project.

And actually rather than a full on a lesson that was more structured, it’s just great especially for someone who doesn’t know much about the topic kind of a person, it was awesome introductory lesson especially where you learn the software and then you learn on the actual 3D printing machine.

It was so nice not to have to take a whole course, but just come for an afternoon and leave with a new skill that you can actually use and keep building on your own and then come back if you want to upgrade or refresh but you don’t actually have to enroll in a program or declare a major or minor to actually learn the material.

But if you have no background in electrical engineering or in software design or using a 3D modeling program it’s really helpful to have an instructor there to give you the basic foundations, and that’s really what this Digital Scholarship Commons [makerspace] is all about. So that’s really what I’ve done is taken these courses here, feel like I then have the foundations or at least know the language enough so that I can ask the right questions to continue building up my experience using these tools.

The library is, especially at the university, is kind of a neutral zone. There is sometimes engineers who rag on the philosophy students and back and forth, but the library is really the common ground where there is everything you need for any subject somewhere in the library, and then people are always walking through and studying here, so I think that having it in this space where it’s kind of neutral, everyone is welcome zone, absolutely. I know quite a few people who feel intimidated or don’t feel welcome in some buildings on campus because of their gender, or maybe because of what they’re studying, or a whole suite of reasons. I feel the library is probably one of the least intimidating places in that sense. Every student is welcome.

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Posted in education, MakerSpace
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