Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona serves a 10,000 square mile, two-county area and has about 10,000 enrolled students. The college’s library is the only academic library in the region and is a vital resource to the student body as well as to the larger community: in 2019 alone, the library received 90,000 individual visits and loaned 30,000 physical items. In 2018, the college received an NEH challenge grant to renovate its library. The completed renovation will provide students and the larger community with an updated physical space to use as well as a state-of-the-art Digital Humanities Lab.
The Digital Humanities Lab will furnish students with a variety of programs to hone students’ digital skills, such as training on how to create podcasts and digital portfolios. Fine Arts students will be able to digitize content and create virtual galleries of their work. Faculty in disciplines like English and history are actively integrating the technology and tools provided by the lab into their courses. “As students become more digitally literate, they become more engaged with their courses—and the teachers too,” said Jana L. Moore, the college’s dean for academic resources and campus locations. Ultimately, the college envisions the new library as a place where newer digital tools can coexist with more traditional physical library resources. Though construction delays and the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed down the building renovation, the new digital infrastructure created by the grant allowed the college to serve its community during the pandemic by providing students with laptops and other digital resources.
The grant also allowed Arizona Western College to digitize archival collections that are unique to the college. Collections like the Southwest Border Collection and sporting collections will be converted to a digital format and made accessible to a much wider audience. This new digital infrastructure, made possible by NEH funding, will enable the college to give its students—and the community—the tools they need to thrive in our increasingly digital world.