Reimagining the Library Visually
Okay, so I’m not good with coming up with post titles, but this is a seriously important post and a seriously fun post. Because, as Niels Bohr supposedly said, “there are some things so serious you have to laugh at them.” I think we have to be able to laugh at ourselves and go out on a limb as we reimagine what the library can become. So I have just two resources today to share that I think are just so fabulously cool and really useful too.
The Conversation Prism is without a doubt one of the coolest graphics I’ve seen. I love the fact that it is on Flickr, is freely available for use under the Creative Commons Attribute License and that people have already commented on it in Flickr. So what is The Conversation Prism? It is a color wheel that breaks up different online social networking and collaboration tools into groups. It is a handy way to see all the ways that we could be communicating, sharing and collaborating with each other online. So how many of these web 2.0 tools are we using in the library? What could we add that would benefit our users? How can we harness the living social network online to keep the library relevant and in the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to searching and using information? What studies have been done on using these different technologies? And, by the way, the graphic prints out fabulously well. You can see it on my office wall if you drop by. Let’s get the library into the center of this conversation–right where we belong!
Since this is about reimagining the library visually, I couldn’t help but put in a plug for Cooliris, Inc. formerly known as PicLens. I love this add-on to my web browser. It works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari, but alas not for Google Chrome, yet. This add-on allows you to display images as a moving image wall, select an image and blow it up to full screen. It only works on certain sites (like Flickr, deviantART, Amazon, etc.), but when it is enabled-wow! Its interface is reminiscent of the iPhone. It is absolutely beautiful.
So other than it being beautiful, why do I mention Cooliris? Think of the library catalog applications! If your catalog had book covers that displayed along with the books’ records and the website was enabled for Cooliris, your patrons could have a moving wall of book covers that they could quickly scan visually. This would make going through search results very easy, especially if you are more of a visual person and remember book covers better than author names. Not only would it look beautiful, it would be a great browsing technique too, as we are all visual creatures and can form a search image very readily. I used this feature when searching Amazon and it was fantastic. What other ways could we use Cooliris? Is it feasible to use it in the catalog? Well, anything is feasible if we put our minds to it.
So I leave you with the following question: how would you use some of these tools to make your work easier or make the library more central to this new digital world? Don’t be too serious, playing and daydreaming contribute to the great epiphanies and ideas of the world just as much as more serious endeavors. So let’s all figure out together. I’m sure that together, through lots of collaboration, we can harness this cool technology and go from reimagining the library into actually changing the library for the better.