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Library Lab Showcases Innovative Library Projects

Annual Library Lab Showcase displayed 28 projects designed to improve the modern library.


November 16, 2012—The second annual Library Lab Showcase—held November 14 in the Radcliffe Gymnasium—showcased 28 projects by Harvard library staff, faculty and graduate students developed to enhance libraries. Organized by Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC), the Library Lab supports projects with funding from the Arcadia Fund. “The idea behind the Library Lab is to have the opportunity to create library innovations,” said Sue Kriegsman of the OSC. “After the showcase, projects are used in a variety of ways. Some are moved forward directly into production, some are taken over by library staff and implemented in certain libraries and others take on forms of their own. Not all are permanent—the Library Lab is about trying new things, experimenting.”


One project on display was “The Awesome Box,” conceived by Matthew Phillips and Annie Cain from the Library Innovation Lab. Already installed in Widener and Lamont Libraries, the Awesome Box allows patrons to return materials to a box set aside for items they deem to be “awesome.” "Awesomed" items are uploaded to a webpage With links to their HOLLIS record, are Tweeted and appear on an RSS feed.


Another project “Enhance Catalog Searching with Geospatial Technology” investigates how to enhance library catalog searching by spatially enabling the catalog data. It was conceived by David Siegel from Library Technology Services (LTS), Marc McGee, from Information and Technical Services and Bonnie Burns from the Harvard Map Collection.


“We took approximately 125,000 HOLLIS catalog records, processed the records through a software program that geocodes the data, identifying geographic terms in the catalog records and converting those terms to latitude/longitude points so that the catalog records can be searched and displayed on map,” McGee said. “We then built a map search interface so that library users can search and interact with the catalog data in a geographic context. This enables users to browse and limit their catalog searches by geography.”


Jessica Yurkofsky, a student at the Graduate School of Design, showcased “Time/Slice,” a tool that crowd-sources digital versions of the traditional library bulletin board. Library patrons can instantly upload events to a public calendar. “Libraries are rich in resources; this tool streamlines the process of creating a user-friendly digital database for events,” Yurkofsky said.


The Library Lab Showcase was organized by Emily Andersen and Sue Kriegsman of the OSC, and Abigail Bordeaux of LTS.


Learn more about the Library Lab here.