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As a digital research commons, 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. Periodically Port hosts experts from the University Libraries and our partners such as LISA statistical consultants for office hours, presentations, and instruction.

Graduate students and faculty are the primary audience, but Port is also open to undergraduate researchers on weekday evenings and all day on weekends.

By design, Port offers both market-leading software like nVivo, ArcGIS, and AutoCAD 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.

Port's space is divided into zones for different purposes. While there is much overlap in the software installed on Port computers, the machines do not all have the same applications. So applications for different kinds of work are clustered in three zones are on the lab/workstation side of Port:

  • Crunch. Centered on a new Mac Pro workstation and supported by upgraded, dual-monitor PCs, the hardware and software here emphasize computationally intensive work, such as geospatial analysis, quantitative research, and computer-assisted design.
  • Show and Tell. Centered on an iMac, this zone is oriented to manipulating and creating still and motion-picture imagery, both for visualization of information and for representing the .
  • Explore. The PCs in this zone provide tools for qualitative and textual analysis and also for design and development of projects in digital humanities and e-science.

On the other side of a partition are tables and shareable monitors for consultations and collaborative work using users' own laptop computers. It is also an area for the library to test new technologies to support researchers. A portion of that space is designated for a future open-information zone showing the power of open-source software, especially for accessing and using information on obsolete formats that has not been placed online.

Either or both sides of Port – even individual workstations – may be reserved online by faculty, staff, and grad students for periods up to three hours. Make your reservations at least a week in advance of your need. The consultation/collaboration area can be reserved for up a semester for standing events such as meetings: make arrangements directly with Bruce Pencek or Ed Brooks, the managers of Port.

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

This form is for requesting a reservation of Port: Digital Research Commons, room 3320 Torgersen. Port has seven computers with a variety of software installed and is appropriate for small classes or groups (use our classroom reservation form for larger groups or classes).

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, sciences, arts, and humanities.