Parallel Session 7

Parallel Session 7 – Innovating on the Use of Library Spaces

Moderator: Émilie Barthet, Libraries, Information and Open Science at Université Paris-Saclay, France
Location: Tassos Papadopoulos – Room 104 (1st Floor)

7.1) Exploring the Opportunity Space for a Collection Wall

Presenters: Alice Bodanzky and Douglas McCarthy, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands

The TU Delft Library is in the process of rethinking its public space — Library Learning Centre (LLC)—to better reflect digital transformation and the changing role of libraries. The aim is to become a place for inspiration, collaboration, training, and resources—functioning as a knowledge hub anchored in its collections. But how can physical and digital collections be experienced in a meaningful way for visitors?

The common denominator is knowledge, gathered in all the various collections the library maintains and makes available for the TU Delft community (and where possible to external parties). Besides physical collections (books and objects from special collections), digital collections play an increasingly prevalent role. Visualising and connecting physical and digital collections to current research interests, education, and society is paramount for the knowledge contained within these collections to be activated.

The Library staff in collaboration with Education (professors, researchers, and students) has been exploring ways to translate these ideas into interactive experiences for the LLC visitors.

Within this context, the LLC is embarking on an ambitious transformation journey, starting by turning its iconic book wall into the Collection Wall—an interactive experience designed to inspire exploration, discovery, and serendipity. This innovative project will visualize and activate both our physical and digital collections, fostering new connections and narratives for educational purposes and cultural programming. It stands as a key component of the library’s mission to engage visitors through its collections.

We are exploring the opportunity space (combined with research and development) of the Collection Wall project. We have dedicated one section of the book wall to become a prototyping area. Prototype #1, focused on master theses and dissertations (Sept 2023), is our first attempt to integrate screens within bookshelves. The prototype displays data from online repositories and presents distributed displays and a touchscreen for data visualization as well as a scanner which merges RFID and NFC scanning technologies.

Books and tokens can be scanned for digital recommendations and publications by “Best Graduates” (nominated annually by faculties) presents a curated navigation option. The prototype also includes vitrines, with Ai-generated keywords used to link content of historic dissertations, displayed with associated physical objects from our Academic Heritage collection and pair with recent research on the same subject (also using Ai).

An interactive application at the heart of the prototype facilitates exploring the student thesis and dissertation repository using machine learning to cluster and recommend similar publications. Users can investigate timelines, filter data by faculties, and visually explore interdisciplinary clusters and outliers.

Initial user feedback of Prototype #1 confirmed the potential of the concepts being tested and helped to identify the main issues to be addressed on the next iteration. The findings of preliminary user tests are also being incorporated into internal discussion and co-creation sessions.

As a library at the centre of a university of technology, this Collection Wall project strives to parallel the innovation transformation of Libraries as institutions and society at large.

7.2) S(h)elf reflection: How we brought the print book back into the library space

Presenter: Anouk Nuijten, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Nowadays, many university libraries are home to large print collections that rarely leave the stack rooms. Project Re:Book (Omboeken), which ran from September 2021 until December 2023, was initiated at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam to give these books a second life. The goal of the project was to find innovative ways to repurpose our print collections by experimenting with the value of books for the university community. Through inspiring, confronting and decorating, our aim was to return the book to the physical space. I will present the results of project Re:Book and share our experiences in analysing our paper collection, collaborating with various partners and fostering community building.

The project was divided in three main pillars: 1) books and their contents as a source of inspiration; 2) books as the starting point for social activities; and 3) the book as object. Each of these elements relied upon the successful execution of the first pillar, which consisted of the analysis of our print collections. By experimenting with different computational tools and criteria, we developed workflows for (de)selecting print books and journals from our collections. We successfully curated nine new thematic libraries and inspirational collections, such as the Pride Library, the Mindful Library, collections around the Sustainable Development Goals and the DecolonisationLab. I will outline the different approaches we employed to create these innovative collections, working together with different stakeholders and providing their communities with inspirational physical spaces.

These thematic libraries not only provide transdisciplinary meeting spaces for students and researchers; they also initiated the organisation of collaborative events between the library and different communities. Ranging from book launches and reading clubs to creative workshops using deselected books, these activities fostered community building and knowledge creation. Hosting these events required us to rethink our traditional use of space, leading to the transformation of our first floor into the Library Lounge. I will explore how we created an inspirational and multifunctional space and the challenges we faced in the transition from silent study space to lively living room.

Finally, I will share how we successfully explored the value of the book as an object as opposed to a source of information. In a series of workshops, organised with our ART SCIENCE Gallery and Open Science division, students, together with an art collective, designed new objects using books. Some of the artworks were placed in the Library Lounge, thereby returning the deselected books in a new, unexpected form to their home to provide an inspiring environment. Others will be installed in a different building on campus, where together with a Little Free Library and furniture constructed from deselected books they will form the Library Corner. By creating this unique meeting space in a science building largely dependent upon digital sources, we invite renewed interaction with print books in unconventional ways. In sharing how project Re:Book has changed how we shape our library spaces and collections, this paper invites librarians to rethink the relationships between print books, diverse communities and physical spaces.

7.3) Developing state-of-the-art 18th century and 21st century libraries at Trinity College Dublin

Presenter: Helen Shenton, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

This presentation explores three major, interrelated, future-oriented strategic programmes in the Library of Trinity College Dublin, and their impact on the university, on scholarship, on Ireland, and beyond.

Firstly, the 18th century ‘Old Library’ at Trinity College Dublin is one of the most wondrous libraries in the world and probably the most identifiable interior in Ireland. A major programme, the Old Library Redevelopment Project, is underway to conserve the historic building; to preserve the 750,000 unique and distinct collection items within; to create an inspirational research collection study centre; and to reimagine the exhibition for the Book of Kells, currently visited by 900,000+ international visitors annually.

At the same time, a major programme to create the Virtual Trinity Library is underway. The vision is to enable access to the exceptional historic collections, ranging from medieval manuscripts to contemporary literary archives, for anyone around the world with an energy source and an internet connection. As well as accelerating digital content creation, the Virtual Trinity Library is underpinned by fundamental activities of conserving, curating, metadata creation, advanced technology (eg AI for automated transcription) and scholarly research. The aim is to join the universe of other international virtual libraries and aggregators of digital content, from Europeana to the Digital Public Library of America, to create a digital entity of research possibilities far beyond text and data mining.

The two parallel programmes are deeply complementary and intertwined. Virtual Trinity Library is accelerating the digital offering of Trinity College Dublin and catalysing primary research. The output has recently provided the collection content for a new, innovative, digital immersive ‘Book of Kells Experience’ which has just opened to visitors ahead of the closure of the Old Library for conservation. Both programmes are platforms for interacting with society – on site in the immersive exhibition for visitors and virtually for any scholar or schoolchild around the world.

A third major programme has just started to create a new Research and Innovation Library on Trinity’s new research campus situated in the heart of Dublin’s ‘Silicon Docks,’ home to the European headquarters of Google, LinkedIn, X, Facebook and many start-ups. The concept for the new Library is ‘digital first and foremost.’

This state-of-the-art, digital-only library is in the service of innovation, research and society. Given the footfall in ‘Silicon Docks’ and the co-location with industry and university researchers and innovators, this library represents a new platform of interacting with society.

These are all part of the medium to long-term strategy for the Library at Trinity College Dublin (see TCD Library Strategy 2015-2020; Continuity & Development of the Library Strategy to 2026).

In the presentation I will explore the impact of simultaneous, large-scale, future-oriented programmes on Trinity’s teaching and research community; on Dublin’s economy; and on the preservation of World Heritage. These strategic infrastructure initiatives are sufficiently advanced to present further to my keynote presentation at IFLA 2022. This work comprises both new initiatives and mature work in progress, and I will reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities.

53rd LIBER Annual Conference