These are responses to the project brief and essentially areas that I would like to investigate further over the next few months.
Poor lighting is uninviting. Intelligent lighting can overcome this problem by enabling fading into warmer lighting by request or sensory detection.
Sensor enabled stacks could dramatically increasing lighting when a patron gets closer to them and slowly dim lighting when there are no patrons occupying its surrounding space.
They can also be used in conjunction with other technologies discussed here to provide navigation cues. You may search for a book on a terminal or send a request via your mobile phone to locate a book and the stack which houses the book would light up momentarily and flash unobtrusively to a steady pulse to signal where it is, until you are in its vicinity or some time passes.
In a Smart library, navigation and bookfinding should be less of a chore, with a series of systems in place to give you directions when you are on a book search.
Dynamic maps and trails that can be printed or sent to your phone or pda, based on your list of searched books. These maps can show you the shortest paths to travel in order to find your books and give directions based on your point of origin, not just a floor number and a triple barrelled bibliographic sequence.
Over the past two years user mediated vocabularies or folksonomies have spawned interesting projects, like del.icio.us, flickr and furl on the web.
Incorporating systems for tagging individual books, shelves and subject areas could enrich the library catalogue and help users share knowledge across disciplines in previously unimagined ways.
Social bookmarking/tagging can be used to inform book selection and bring a sense of community to an otherwise non conducive system where patrons don't interact. Knowledge of the gems hidden in the library become lost each year, as students graduate, but this may be an outlet for them to become known.
RFID tagging technology is impacting libraries around the world, it is making it easier for library staff to deal with the process of lending, re-ordering on stacks, right down to the individual copy level.
It has raised some privacy concerns amongst privacy activists, who claim books in your bag can be identified, but as libraries are using their own tagging conventions, there is no link between the tag and the book.
Related Centre for RFID yorkshire.
Alternate visualisations of book arrangement on Smart displays can encourage playful, thoughtful user centric interventions in the library space.
Short throw projectors are some of the inexpensive display devices to augment existing library spaces, they can project directions or textual information onto the floor, ceiling or designated areas on shelves. This is a non destructive and appealing interface that can be easily realligned according to where it is positioned.
Roaming displays like PDA's, Tablet PC's and mobile phones all with wireless connections to the library network can add virtual layers of information to the data, augmenting it playfully, practically and usefully.
Imagine a scenario where least browsed books with recent tagged activity become more prominent in augmented display visualisations.
(Im interested in how users start using the library knowing these effects will take place after they tag a book)
In a system that allows users to rate annotate and find content, Searches are faster more efficient and yield more relevant results.
Less explored functions search functions like browsing by predominant cover, are sometimes just as important to someone who remembers that green covered book they saw last year.
PDA's or Tablet PC's enabled with RFID readers and active WIFI connections, allow patrons to browse book covers on shelves without touching and pulling the books from stacks. This not only preserves books, but also assists with visual memory recall and encourages browsing by cover, much like a well planned magazine rack. The current capabilities of PDA's make such an application quite feasible. Perhaps even with visual tracking of the actual physical space.
Existing terminal based search facilities can benefit from the enriched meta data, user annotation, direction data, gathered on individual books. They can be used as hubs for book annotation, social bookmarking and microcontent based knowledge sharing. There is no reason why these search facilities should remind us of the early days of computing.