We just concluded class #2 of the Library Test Kitchen, our experimental seminar in the Graduate School of Design. The course is a collaboration between Jeffrey Schnapp (Professor of Romance Languages & Literature, Director of metaLab) Ann Whiteside (Director, Frances Loeb Library), Ben Brady (GSD) and me (Jeff Goldenson). It is the continuation of a seminar this past Fall entitled Bibliotheca, the Library Past/Present/Future. There are many other folks involved in the Test Kitchen — people from the Innovation Lab, the greater Harvard Library and metaLab, who are taking part, and we’re just at the beginning.
As described on www.librarytestkitchen.org, this is a seminar about making. A prototyping lab for libraries. Our goal is to create products, services & experiences, broadly defined, for the Harvard Library community. Generous funding to realize these projects is provided by Prof. Robert Darnton and the Harvard Library Lab. Projects will be deployed in «Test Kitchens» — partner libraries, such as the Loeb and Widener Libraries, that allocate portions of their public space to these experiments.
There’s a hypothesis at the heart of this seminar. Perhaps the students know what the future of the library should be, better than we (library staff) do. So lets put them in the drivers seat and find out.
Even as technology takes over more and more of our lives many of us are living in a technology cemetery, filled with old gadgets we have no idea how to revive, computers we don’t know how to program, and ebooks we have no idea how to download to.
Johnson argues that this is a huge opportunity for libraries to revive their place as centers of the community, for librarians to exist not just as oracles of the reference book, but as guides to the technical world.
She spoke with David Weinberger about exactly how this might happen.
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I posted an idea the other day. It’s called Library License. It’s a way to make works digitally available through libraries, after a specified amount of time has elapsed since publication date. It is a currently a sketch of an idea, to be evolved openly. It’s more a movement, perhaps in the form of a “drag n drop” clause that content creators may add to their licensing agreements with publishers. The idea is explained in full over here:
The Digital Public Library of America today announced that initial (and interim) development work on the DPLA platform will be done by the LibraryCloud team here at the Library Innovation Lab — Paul Deschner, Matthew Phillips, and David Weinberger — plus our Berkman friends, Daniel Collis-Puro and Sebastian Diaz. We’ll do this as openly as possible, relying upon the community to help at every phase, but this will be our core work during the first phase of the platform’s development, leading up to an April 26 DPLA Steering Committee meeting.
The DPLA platform will enable developers to write applications using the metadata (primarily about content hosted elsewhere) the DPLA will be aggregating.
The CBC show Spark a couple of days ago ran an 8 minute piece about the two biggest projects coming out of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, ShelfLife and LibraryCloud. It does a great job cutting together an interview of me with an illuminating narrative from Nora Young.
Alison Head, who is spending time with us at the LiL as she simultaneously is a Fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center — she is the co-diorector of Project Information Literacy at the Univ. of Washington’s Information School — spoke with us about a new study she’s done with Michael Eisenberg [pdf] about what students are actually doing with their electronic companions when in the library during “crunch time” (two weeks before exams). Are they multitasking? Are they playing games or Facebooking instead of studying? Are they managing their devices, or are their devices managing them?
In this interview, Alison explains that answers are of course complex, but that overall, The Kids are managing well…and that this may give some hints about the future of libraries.