Head Librarian Eileen Schnur and computer science teacher Amy Azevedo Mulgrew '02 teamed up recently for a student research project on cutting-edge technology.
Mulgrew tasked her students with researching topics such as self-driving cars, virtual reality, drones, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence and where those technologies are headed. Because the future moves fast, Schnur has been busy building up a digital trove of up-to-date resources that students can access 24/7. For the project, Schnur taught the students how to select authoritative websites and open-source science databases, as well as how to navigate Catalina's subscription databases for current research and topics in the news. Students then presented their research to the class, complete with a bibliography to warm the librarian's heart.
After each student presented her findings, she led a discussion about the ethics and various uses of her chosen technology. The thought-provoking conversations ranged from the potential for sexual harassment and assault in virtual reality to nano-warfare and drone surveillance. They also acknowledged the positive potential each technology presents, such as remote access to internet via drone routers, atomically precise manufacturing, and the potential for eliminating human error with self-driving cars.
The project was just the latest example of the library working with academic departments you wouldn't expect. Last spring, for instance, chemistry students came in to research different careers in that field, which they then turned into presentations, video ads, or jingles to recruit applicants.