The Library Test Kitchen


Harvard Magazine discusses a new course that asks students to “define new dimensions of the library experience.”

Libraries in the US are really struggling.  Public libraries are enduring dramatic funding cuts in many municipalities, while academic libraries are struggling with a marketing problem – how to convince students of their value.  Why go to the university library when you can go online and access everything (or so you think) from your dorm room?

The consensus in the academic library community seems to be, “If we just do a better job of informing students of our value, they will come.”  That is likely to be a very hard road.

What these students have done is innovate completely new elements of the library experience.  My favorites are the Wi-Fi Cold Spot and “Biblio.”  Innovations like these seem much more likely to bring people through the doors than does shouting louder about the services you provide.  Some of these creations (especially Biblio) completely change the experience of doing research.