Fangmin Wang | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Innovators

Fangmin Wang didn’t start his career as an innovator. “I liked learning and I liked doing research,” he says. But when Wang joined Ryerson University Library, he found a tradition of thinking outside the box and a library culture that valued experimentation. That, along with mentorship, jump-started his journey to find and fill gaps across his campus with library resources, expertise, and support.

Fangmin Wang

CURRENT POSITION

Head, Library Information Technology Services, Ryerson University, Toronto

DEGREE

MLIS, McGill University, 2004

FAST FACT

The Library Collaboratory was part of a renovation of the Ryerson Library that won the 2018 Ontario Library Association’s Library Architectural and Design Transformation Award

FOLLOW

@fangminwang

Photo ©2019 Matt Lawrence Photography

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Collaboratory Creator

Fangmin Wang didn’t start his career as an innovator. “I liked learning and I liked doing research,” he says. But when Wang joined Ryerson University Library, he found a tradition of thinking outside the box and a library culture that valued experimentation. That, along with mentorship, jump-started his journey to find and fill gaps across his campus with library resources, expertise, and support.

“Fangmin is a builder and a visionary,” says chief librarian Carol Shepstone. “[He] is always at the center of connections and collaborations…. He can speak knowledgeably and passionately about student needs and interests…and about the opportunities to advance faculty research and scholarship.”

Wang has collaborated with faculty and researchers in a variety of disciplines. As a member of the Centre for Digital Humanities advisory board, Wang understands the struggles and strengths of faculty research and helps find ways for the library to support it. He has also collaborated with architecture and interior design faculty to help them create an augmented reality app, using geolocation and web technology, for students to understand the architectural history of Toronto better by exploring it. “He has been invited to strategic tables and [has] always remembered the core goals of academic success and experiential learning for students,” says Shepstone.

In 2015, these experiences (and a sabbatical spent researching Maker spaces in public libraries) led Wang to design and launch the Digital Media Experience Lab, a student fabrication studio with a model of support and experiential learning.

Recognizing that many researchers at Ryerson don’t have regular access to research space, Wang expanded on concepts from the media lab and designed a new space, in consultation with campus experts: the Library Collaboratory. An interdisciplinary research incubator, it hosts more than 135 researcher, graduate student, and instructor members from 45 departments and programs. Cocreation reigns in the Collaboratory, with faculty across disciplines supporting one another’s work.

As a co-lead on eCampus Ontario, a government-led project to develop open educational resources for over 45 colleges and universities, Wang has used the Collaboratory himself. “My experience working with faculty in other disciplines helped me to understand how to make these connections [outside Ryerson],” he says. Designing spaces such as the Library Collaboratory, connecting community from both academic and civic sectors, fostering faculty and student success, and turning ideas into action are all hallmarks of his work.

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