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Abstract

The new Material Resource Center at Rhode Island School of Design is a growing collection of material samples with broad appeal across an art and design campus comprised of twenty-four departments and disciplines. The creation of this teaching and learning resource challenges traditional concepts, roles, and functions as library, collection, lab, and center merge into one space with a cross-campus mission. The newly learned areas of digital collection creation and management (metadata schema, digital asset management) are also challenged with the return to and assertion of the physical object. For the studio faculty member, innovative materials require a rethinking of traditional application and process, though the concepts of sustainability and life-cycle/story-telling are a comfortable fit. Simply: the MRC stands to benefit from key lessons learned from the analog and digital worlds, from the structured to the organic, from the descriptive to the creative, from the traditional to the innovative. This will naturally require faculty to become more inventive with their curriculum and for librarians and visual resources curators to become comfortable and fluent in these new, recombined, and expansive modes of access, presentation, and use. This paper will trace the evolution of the RISD MRC as it confronts these issues.

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