I just moved to a new neighborhood and went to the local library branch called the Dudley Branch Library. It was a really interesting experience and unlike any library I had been to before.
The first thing that was different was as I walked in I saw lots of graffiti on the ground paying respect to someone who was killed outside somehow. I tried to find out more but I couldn’t. Regardless, it was a different feeling than I’ve had entering a library before. As I walked in, I was immediately into the space. It was built in 1978 and the space is great. It is basically one large room that is lit with glass brick. Behind most of the glass brick are trees so it is like a filter on a filter and the light is very soft and lovely.
There were a lot of services offered like resume building, and career related stuff. They also boasted a large children’s section and a huge collection on African American studies. Aside from that though, the collection seemed pretty strange and there weren’t like a lot of things I would think of as staples in a library. There was a bank of computers and kids were on each of them. It was sort of funny though because every one of them was playing video games on the internet and nobody was doing research for book reports or school or anything like that.
Probably my favorite thing about the library were these posters everywhere encouraging kids to read. They were posters of celebrities reading their favorite books (the singer Brandy, John Leguizamo, the two tortured looking teens from Twilight and something called a “Ne-Yo”). This was so lame…if I was a kid these posters would make me not want to read. How can we get kids to read more and do it is a non-pandering way?
So Annie and I made an app for the class, it’s called intercom. As in “intercommunication device.” I was looking for a delicious-type link-sharing tool, minus the logins or accounts, that’d make sharing things we found across the web super-easy.
The whole “intercom” bit comes in because it’s kinda like a call button from your browser directly to the test kitchen.
Intercom from Harvard Library Innovation Lab on Vimeo.
Between now and the next class, our goal is to document the physical and social life of Harvard Library space. We’ll be doing some fieldwork: observing and interviewing students and staff at libraries around campus (see map above). The assignment has two parts:
1. Documentation. Each student will spend some time hanging out at two libraries. We’ll be uploading and sharing our field photos using time/slice, and recording/analyzing observations in a blog post. The goal is to get a sense of how people are engaging with library space – behaviors, problems, interactions. Interviews are encouraged!
2. Design. Students will pick one specific behavior or trend from their observations and pitch a design intervention that responds to it. The idea is to propose something that you could make (with more time). The design can solve a problem, aggravate it, or transform it – doesn’t matter, as long as it responds to it directly. The pitch should package your idea, and should be able to stand on its own as a blog post without additional explanation. Some textual writeup is probably necessary, but it should be well supported by visuals you create. Your pitch should address most (if not all) of the following questions: What observation is the intervention in response to? How does it change library use? Who uses it, and how often? Where? In which libraries? What does it do to the observed behavior (change/solve/aggravate/etc)?
Check back next week for observations and pitches!
Download the full assignment (PDF).
So far, I’ve stuck to the state level data, which still has a lot of interesting information. You can compare ebook stock, computer users, revenue and expenses, number of borrowers, and even (my favorite) bookmobile fleets. I’ve put together an interactive map that gives a snapshot of the data – check it out. It’s *really* rough and buggy right now, but I’ll make it a little more user-friendly in the next few days. (One thing to be aware of – it’s currently normalizing data by population.)
LTK is kicking off this coming tuesday. Here’s what’s got my attention at this moment, a sunny morning, 1st of September. All of this sits squarely under the LTK umbrella.
Paper Apps. Co-opting the printing press infrastructure (press and digital printing too), for simple electonics.
FF Chartwell. This one just kills it. Take the well-developed font display infrastructure, as used in layout applications, but use it for visualizations. It’s like taking Wingdings and making them useful. https://www.fontfont.com/how-to-use-ff-chartwell
A clear reminder (with great examples) that design should be invisible
And Libraries. Shannon Mattern is one of the best thinkers/observers around media, space and libraries.
Marginalia: Little Libraries in the Urban Margins, Shannon Mattern
Things are ramping up for the Fall. As of today, we’ve got four guests coming from outside the library world. Their expertise are varied:
Communications: Adam Michaels, Project Projects
Making community spaces: Dan D’Oca, Interboro Partners
Raising money: Stephanie Pereira, Kickstarter
Library Planning & Design: Stephen Cassel, ARO
The thread weaving these visitors together is they have rubber-meets-the-road craft knowledge about making things and making things happen in the real world.
I wanna know what I can do to increase my odds of creating successful kickstarter campaign. I wanna know how to make a community space work, and what are the things I should think about going in. So we’re bringing in the folks who know.
We’ll be posting these and other sessions to the blog so stay tuned.
LTK for Library Staff is humming along nicely. We’re learning as we go and look to build each workshop on experiences from the previous. Creating the space and time to gather ~10 librarians around a table, sharing what works and what doesn’t, is the best recipe for library innovation I’ve seen.
The three large domains we’ve been exploring include:
- Leveraging usage data of all kinds for decision-making
- Metadata and findability – smartening up User Interfaces as well as talking across data silos
We’ll be presenting our work to each other on Tuesday for further project refinement. After that, we’ll share our work with the public.
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Distribution from Harvard Library Innovation Lab on Vimeo.
Distribution from Harvard Library Innovation Lab on Vimeo.
In other news, sending out some of our Library Test Kitchen newspapers from the spring to folks we like out in the universe.
If you’d like to get your hands on one and see student forays into the future of the library, email your mailing address to jgoldenson(at symbol)law.harvard.edu!
Library Test Kitchen for Library Staff
The workshop meets three times:
Tuesday June 19th, Thursday June 21st and Tuesday June 26th
10am – 12pm
Attendance for all meetings is asked, thanks -
Visual and Material Resources Room, Loeb Library, L12
Graduate School of Design
What will we do?
- Tuesday June 19th: we go over the homework assigned for the first class meeting (yes, there will be homework, but not too much : ) We’ll learn from each other and do some creative stuff.
- Thursday June 21st: we’ll discuss project ideas, form teams, and begin work.
- Tuesday June 26th: we’ll debrief, and then present our work to each other for discussion!
More to come…