Patrick Tomlin has recently been appointed University Libraries’ assistant dean and director of learning environments. Reporting to the dean of University Libraries, his areas of responsibility include building management, capital outlay planning and renovations, exhibits, special events, studios and innovative technologies, user services, the art and architecture library, the northern Virginia resource center, and the future Innovation Campus library.

“Patrick has been transformational in leading the library’s learning environments area, which has expanded via the founding of the creation studios, taking on oversight of two branch libraries, and being engaged in the Innovation Campus library planning,” said University Libraries Dean Tyler Walters. “It is important strategically that we continue positioning the library as a leader of creativity and innovation support within our university.”

Tomlin began working in the University Libraries at Virginia Tech in 2008 as head of the art and architecture library in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in Cowgill Hall. In 2015, he became director of learning environments. His interest in the evolution of libraries as learning environments emerged gradually during his time at Virginia Tech.

“How might libraries facilitate, and even shape, new forms of learning, individually and across disciplines? In what ways do we contribute to student wellbeing and success? These are questions that motivate me and that are embodied in the sense of place generated by libraries,” said Tomlin. “Of course, many of us are working remotely these days, but for me, that distance has thrown into high relief just how important libraries are as hubs of learning, collaboration, and experimentation in ways that cannot be meaningfully replicated in an online environment.

“We are seeing that the need for equitable access to innovative, technology-enriched, and user-centered library spaces has never been more important,” said Tomlin. “Being able to create and support such spaces is exciting.”

Tomlin said he will be working toward growing the library as a participatory and smart space, one that can respond to or be activated by users based on their immediate needs. To do this, he will be leading conversations with community and campus partners about those needs.

“Access to information, to emerging technologies, and to research expertise must be adaptive and inclusive,” said Tomlin. “We will continue to see the pace of development accelerate around technologies associated with data science and visualization, immersive environments, 3D printing, intelligent infrastructure and artificial intelligence. Our studios and other place-based services will continue to evolve to keep pace with these developments.”

The University Libraries is the perfect place for this to happen, due to its central location in the university’s Creativity and Innovation District.

“Sitting at the intersection of academic disciplines, the library is uniquely positioned to advance the transdisciplinary initiatives of the university’s Creativity and Innovation District and Destination Area,” said Tomlin. “It’s been exciting to see the University Libraries increasingly recognized as a steward and curator of content and as an active contributor to teaching and learning across campus, and to scholarship in all its diverse forms. I am fortunate to have an incredible team who brings their passion and creativity to bear on our spaces and services everyday, from creating exhibits to nurturing student experiential learning opportunities in our studios.”