Creating a materials samples collection to support the engineering curriculum
Engineers fundamentally solve problems. Engineering students are obtaining the education necessary to develop problem-solving skills and tools. Olin College of Engineering was founded on the philosophy that a hands-on, entrepreneurial, design-centered engineering education would create engineers ready to solve current and emerging problems. Olin's library has embraced the college's philosophy through the development of a realia, or learning objects collection that supports multiple
... ltiple intelligences. Moving beyond these learning objects, library staff wanted to build a collection of materials samples that enhance the engineering curriculum, and specifically design, sustainability and materials science courses. Students use the objects to make project decisions and for inspiration. The hands-on nature of the collection aligns with the pedagogical philosophy of the college. These objects are physically available and also are beginning to have digital representation. A growing partnership between the library and specific courses is helping build the collection, while subscriptions from vendors assure a steady growth of new objects. The collection requires three phases of thought and development beyond acquisitions: display of objects, storage of objects, and the digital representation of objects. The digital representation has several layers of development, from database building to metadata decisions to object photos to the workflow & policy decisions. This paper will briefly discuss the philosophy and development of Olin College and the Olin College Library, and then address the evolving materials collection. The collection creation was informed by site visits to other types of samples collections such as museums and curriculum centers, discussions with faculty, partnerships with vendors, and re-alignment of existing library collections and space. The physical and virtual collections are beginning to directly serve student and curriculum needs, provide a sense of collection ownership by the contributing students, and create new partnerships with faculty.