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David Lee King

Doing Unique Things at the Digital Branch



Not too long ago, I posted Doing Stuff at the Library’s Website to my blog, and my good friend Darlene Fichter added her thoughts to the post. Here’s what she said:

David – Good post and everyone should be able to say the purpose quickly and succinctly and know what experience they are crafting for visitors to have.

But I’d like to pose the question – what can we do online that is part of the library experience that we can’t do in the “physical” building?

  • time shifting comes to mind – the shift worker’s reading club
  • write on the book cover
  • write in the margins for the next reader (option to show or hide)
  • hold your next concert from the reading room aka those Xmas cards with different backgrounds and sets

More ideas?

Gina Millsap, the library director at MPOW, says the same thing. A “Digital Branch” because of it’s very nature (ie., online, virtual, digital) has the great potential to do stuff simply not possible in a normal, physical library.

So – what do you think? What can we do in our digital branches that we can’t do in our physical branches? Any ideas?

photo by Cindi Trainor

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://library2.usask.ca/~fichter/blog_on_the_side/ Darlene Fichter

    David – I guess I’m a bit of a “what if” thinker. I see so many possibilities – some silly and some with merit (I hope). There’s so much to be tapped into online and we’ve just started. Here’s a few of the ideas that come to mind.

    First, some libraries are already doing similar things with an unique twist. For example, we offer reference in the branch but online if we want to do it 24×7 it makes sense to partner with others so that’s a bit of twist. It’s not your “local” librarian who answers and it’s round the clock.

    User contributed books:
    I wonder if any libraries are doing this yet? Letting users “tag” I own this book too and I would lend it – it would really help with the bestseller lineups. Or add items they have the library doesn’t. A community library added to by the community. It’d be hard to do this in the real library — a) you’d run out of room b) end up with 5000 duplicates etc etc. Virtually it could be done and for “user contributed books” it could have software to generate a “request” to borrow that would email the book owner. A fancy system would print out a “User Loaned Book Slip” that could be dropped off with the book at the nearest branch. This _COULD_ be done in way that the Lender and the Recipient remain anonymous or not depending on what is preferred.

    Organization Contributed Content
    Or let organizations in your community that have special libraries around autism, cancer, etc. add their collections to the library catalogue

    Libraries could also certainly create unique visualizations – coverflow of new books or the return cart – these mimic the real world but we could literally have hundreds online and all kinds of them. There’s literally hundreds of different ways to visualize books/collections.
    -Coverflow – new knitting books
    -Coverflow – last returned mysteries

    Data Mining with Yahoo Pipes – University of Pittsburgh library does this – they parse some of the licensed article databases to identify new articles by their “faculty” and then show that as ticker on the site. Yes you can see it in the building if you’re using the web site. But it’s something we can do online much easier than in the physical library. But what if we also built a page of cover art – books published by our faculty that showed up all year. For public libraries – books published by authors from our community or that are set in our community (from there you of course leap to a Google Map Mashup and from there to a Community Walk – book/walking tour)

    Take a chunk of our library with you to your site and remix:
    But what if we allowed our users to take a chunk of the library to their own sites — post this feed on their site or a segment our collecton on it – the sociology reading room… Amazon let 100,000 web sites rebundle their content and covers starting about 10 years ago.

    Or what if we alerted our faculty every time we discover one of their works in a licensed db and say this is available now via our library in our “licensed” collection. Academic libraries are looking for ways to inform users that we pay for the licensed databases that they use, so this could be service and educational moment.
    Has anyone let people re-arrange / redesign their library like those decorating tools? Much easier digitally? Submit a new floorplan.

    Some libraries let you “rearrange” the library web site by offering personalize options – that’s a bit tricky to do in a physical branch – some have areas where you can move the furniture but not most
    don’t let you shift a lot of things around and share your ideas.

    Sometimes simplest ideas work best – take a photo of your library and share it on the site, let folks vote for the nicest personal libraries. They do garden tours in the summer for gardening enthusiasts – not so easy to tour people’s homes and see their bookshelves libraries but for book lovers its something we like to do – see other book rooms/areas.

    What other “what ifs” can you think of?

  • http://library2.usask.ca/~fichter/blog_on_the_side/ Darlene Fichter

    David – I guess I’m a bit of a “what if” thinker. I see so many possibilities – some silly and some with merit (I hope). There’s so much to be tapped into online and we’ve just started. Here’s a few of the ideas that come to mind.

    First, some libraries are already doing similar things with an unique twist. For example, we offer reference in the branch but online if we want to do it 24×7 it makes sense to partner with others so that’s a bit of twist. It’s not your “local” librarian who answers and it’s round the clock.

    User contributed books:
    I wonder if any libraries are doing this yet? Letting users “tag” I own this book too and I would lend it – it would really help with the bestseller lineups. Or add items they have the library doesn’t. A community library added to by the community. It’d be hard to do this in the real library — a) you’d run out of room b) end up with 5000 duplicates etc etc. Virtually it could be done and for “user contributed books” it could have software to generate a “request” to borrow that would email the book owner. A fancy system would print out a “User Loaned Book Slip” that could be dropped off with the book at the nearest branch. This _COULD_ be done in way that the Lender and the Recipient remain anonymous or not depending on what is preferred.

    Organization Contributed Content
    Or let organizations in your community that have special libraries around autism, cancer, etc. add their collections to the library catalogue

    Libraries could also certainly create unique visualizations – coverflow of new books or the return cart – these mimic the real world but we could literally have hundreds online and all kinds of them. There’s literally hundreds of different ways to visualize books/collections.
    -Coverflow – new knitting books
    -Coverflow – last returned mysteries

    Data Mining with Yahoo Pipes – University of Pittsburgh library does this – they parse some of the licensed article databases to identify new articles by their “faculty” and then show that as ticker on the site. Yes you can see it in the building if you’re using the web site. But it’s something we can do online much easier than in the physical library. But what if we also built a page of cover art – books published by our faculty that showed up all year. For public libraries – books published by authors from our community or that are set in our community (from there you of course leap to a Google Map Mashup and from there to a Community Walk – book/walking tour)

    Take a chunk of our library with you to your site and remix:
    But what if we allowed our users to take a chunk of the library to their own sites — post this feed on their site or a segment our collecton on it – the sociology reading room… Amazon let 100,000 web sites rebundle their content and covers starting about 10 years ago.

    Or what if we alerted our faculty every time we discover one of their works in a licensed db and say this is available now via our library in our “licensed” collection. Academic libraries are looking for ways to inform users that we pay for the licensed databases that they use, so this could be service and educational moment.
    Has anyone let people re-arrange / redesign their library like those decorating tools? Much easier digitally? Submit a new floorplan.

    Some libraries let you “rearrange” the library web site by offering personalize options – that’s a bit tricky to do in a physical branch – some have areas where you can move the furniture but not most
    don’t let you shift a lot of things around and share your ideas.

    Sometimes simplest ideas work best – take a photo of your library and share it on the site, let folks vote for the nicest personal libraries. They do garden tours in the summer for gardening enthusiasts – not so easy to tour people’s homes and see their bookshelves libraries but for book lovers its something we like to do – see other book rooms/areas.

    What other “what ifs” can you think of?