The University of MichiganNews Services
The University Record Online
Updated 10:00 AM June 22, 2009

record update




view events

submit events

UM employment

police beat
regents round-up
research reporter


Advertise with Record

contact us
meet the staff
contact us


Record Update first

Digital Media Commons becomes part of University Library
Find out more at

The Digital Media Commons on North Campus was created as a place where new learning technologies can be launched and nurtured.

The University Library was created to facilitate research and learning with a prominent physical presence on campus and a mission to serve the entire university community.

Now these two units with complementary missions are joining forces. After more than a dozen years of reporting to the Office of the Provost, the Digital Media Commons (DMC) is now an integral part the Library.

“The Digital Media Commons has played an important role as an incubator, developer and producer of new technologies used in teaching,” says Paul Courant, U-M librarian and dean of libraries. “It seems quite natural that by bringing the Digital Media Commons into the Library we can strengthen the Library and expand the reach of the Digital Media Commons.”

The affiliation was made official July 1 and integration of the Digital Media Commons into the Library will evolve over time, says Courant.

The DMC, located in the James and Anne Duderstadt Center in the heart of North Campus, was born as a collaborative effort of four North Campus-based units: The School of Art & Design, the College of Engineering, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Panning. By reporting to the Office of the Provost, the Duderstadt Center and the DMC reflected a shared mission to provide an interdisciplinary environment to support digital media exploration for all of the university.

DMC Executive Producer John Merlin Williams likens the DMC to a technology sandbox, where people with new ideas get to play. But that “play” has nurtured important developments, ranging from advanced facilities and supporting the performing arts to developing CTools, which started as a research project and quickly evolved into an important tool used daily by students and faculty.

Williams says the Library is a “natural fit” for the DMC because of the Library’s mission of service.

“Some of what we’ve learned about collaboration at the DMC could be very useful in creating similar shared-use spaces elsewhere on campus,” Williams says.

Integration of the DMC with the Library also will help the university be more intentional about the use of new technology and more deliberate about dedication of resources to support new learning technologies, both Courant and Williams say.

The affiliation is consistent with the recommendations contained in the report of the Provost’s Special Committee on Institutional Innovation in Collaborative Technologies for Learning.

That report, issued this spring, recommended that the Library “be charged with fostering and enabling a more efficient and rapid deployment of transformative learning technology …” The committee envisioned having the DMC be part of the Library as key to fulfilling that charge.

Courant says the affiliation also comes at a time when digital projects are the focus of new efforts by the Library and libraries around the world. The U-M is a leader in the effort to digitize books at major university libraries to make them more available to the public worldwide.

Williams says he could envision new opportunities for the integration of technology into teaching and learning as the Library is able to take the DMC collaborative model into other areas of the university.

The DMC staff of about 50 full-time employees and an additional 30-40 students who work part-time already work closely with the staff of the Art, Architecture and Engineering Library, also housed in the Duderstadt Center.

The DMC consists of several labs that provide the physical space for collaborative learning and research. These include: the audio and video studios, Multimedia conversion lab and workrooms, the U-M 3D Lab, and Design Lab 1, which supports media-intensive course development and projects.

More Stories