Researching materials for design development and implementation can be challenging without the benefit of working with, holding, and comparing physical items. Online resources provide in-depth information on properties that make up materials, while having a tactile understanding of the actual material can be essential to innovation.
That heightened physical awareness is now possible with the installation of TMU Libraries’ new Material ConneXion (MCX) research collection—the second only physical materials collection at a Canadian academic institution.
Interest in this collection has grown quickly as librarians work with students to unlock new potential for their work. Students from academic fields ranging from interior design and fashion, to engineering and entrepreneurship, have been exploring materials that address real product and design problems they face in courses, research and in practice.
This new physical resource hosts 1000 material samples to discover in person, with 10,000 additional materials online, ensuring a collection that supports academic quality and innovation across multiple disciplines and programs, while enabling new avenues for discovery of unique and practical samples.
TMU librarians are using the collection to enhance instruction of this onsite resource and engage in new types of research collaborations with students and faculty.
Business librarian, Reece Steinberg, has conducted specialized course instruction and workshops to help students and researchers discover optimal material options for product design.
He’s worked with entrepreneurship students exploring potential lightweight, waterproof and flexible food packaging options that include sustainability features. He’s also consulted with Zone Learning students examining moldable materials for a commissioned outdoor furniture piece.
“Students have commented on how challenging this type of research is without the ability to physically access the materials, along with in-depth information about their specifications. This collection bridges that gap,” says Steinberg.
Acting Head of Borrowing and Lending Service, Sonny Banerjee was instrumental in acquiring and installing the physical collection. He and a team of librarians, including Naomi Eichenlaub Reece Steinberg, Nora Mulvaney, Alison Skyrme and Lei Jin selected physical samples that would meet the current needs of the university community.
“The collection will change over time as we bring in different materials and swap out others. It is a very flexible collection that can be adapted with collaboration from the community,” says Banerjee.
With this physical collection, TMU Libraries has expanded a resource that truly reflects the innovative and creative research pursuits of the community.
“Bringing this collection onsite gives our community direct access to a collection that is so essential to so many TMU programs,” says Dana Thomas, interim chief librarian. “It is very exciting to see bold and innovative research, designs and ideas come to life in the Library.”