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Port is the Virginia Tech Libraries' destination for individual scholars and project teams who need above-average technology and collaborative space to explore data, create knowledge, and develop interesting ways to express information in digital formats.

Port is located in Torgersen 3320: between the Torgersen Bridge and the entrance to the fourth floor of Newman Library.

Graduate students and faculty are the primary audience, but Port is also open to undergraduate researchers on weekday evenings and all day on weekends. Port is also an area for the library to test new technologies to support researchers.

Current Hokie Passports are required for entry.


Port also hosts experts from the University Libraries and our partners such as 

  • LISA (statistical methods)
  • VTIP (intellectual property concerns of researchers)

for regular consulting hours, presentations, and instruction.

Port resources

Many applications in Port are not widely available in computer labs available to anyone in the university community. So if you want to design extremely sophisticated models to fabricate in the library’s 3D Design Studio, you don’t need to get into the Engineering CAD Lab: the same applications are in Port. And more

By design, Port is a software sandbox, offering both market-leading software like nVivo, ArcGIS, Rhino, and PTC Creo and also many open-source alternatives. Test-drive both kinds in Port before you commit your own money and computer resources. R or Stata? Try, then decide.

While almost all Port software is installed on every Port computer, Port is divided into functional zones to make it easier to locate the special resources available only on some machines. Color-coded signs call attention to the purposes and key resources in each zone.

  • Crunch. The hardware and software here emphasize computationally intensive work, such as geospatial analysis, quantitative research, and computer-assisted design. One computer features a large Wacom Cintiq graphics monitor for precision design: draw directly on the screen
  • Show and Tell. This zone is oriented to creating and manipulating still and motion-picture imagery, visualization of information, and writing/publishing.  One computer features a large Wacom Cintiq graphics monitor for precision design and editing.
  • Explore. This zone emphasizes tools for qualitative and textual analysis and also for design and development of projects in digital humanities and e-science.

In the Consultation/Collaboration zone are a meeting table, an interactive touchscreen display for active collaboration, tables for small teams, and other resources for users who bring their own computers. A portion of that area is designated for a future open-information zone for exploring open-source software, especially for accessing and using information on obsolete formats that has not been placed online.


Either side of Port – even individual workstations and tables – may be reserved online by faculty, staff, and grad students for blocks of two hours, for up to four consecutive hours or six hours in one week. Make your reservations at least two business days in advance of your need. Special set ups like software installation need at least two weeks’ lead time – discuss your special need with Bruce Pencek first. Reservations are valid once you receive confirmations from Bruce Pencek, Steve Tatum, or  Ed Brooks.

Contact us

  •     Bruce Pencek
  • Bruce Pencek
  • College Librarian for Social Sciences & History
  • (540) 231-2140
  • (540) 231-2140 (Newman Library 3050 office -- for most purposes)
  • 3050 Newman Library, 560 Drillfield Drive
    Blacksburg, VA 24062-9001
  • Ed Brooks
  • GIS Specialist
  • 540-231-9225
  • Newman Library room 2030
    560 Drillfield Drive
    Blacksburg, VA 24061

Port reservation form

Select this online form to request a reservation of Port: Digital Research Commons, room 3320 Torgersen. Port has eight computers with a variety of software installed on its lab side, and another PC powering a large, interactive display on its consultation/collaborative side. Individual work areas, either side, or all or Port can be reserved. For traditional, lecture-based instruction with groups larger than 10, consider reserving one of the library classrooms.

Port hours

Graduate students and faculty

Sun: 9:00am - 12:00midnight
Mon - Thurs: 7:30am - 12:00midnight
Fri: 7:30am - 8:00pm
Sat: 9:00am - 8:00pm


Sun: 9:00am - 12:00midnight
Mon - Thurs: 7:00pm - 12:00midnight
Sat: 9:00am - 8:00pm

On days when Newman Library is open. Port is not open overnight. Swipe your Hokie Passport for access.

What's in a name?

What’s in the name? Port is a figure of speech, not an acronym. Since ancient times, seaports have been recognized as places where innovations followed from the interchange of cultures, ideas, and goods. Today, of course, Port are the plugs and sockets that knit together computers and networks. Our name conveys how Port facilitates scholarship bridging old and new, high-tech and high-thought, humanities, arts, sciences, and technologies.