stacks+ : Augmenting Serendipitous Discovery in the Library

For our workshop class in Fall of 2014, my peers and I were given the challenge of designing an experience for Google Glass. My group was most interested in doing something within the space of the library and information gathering. stacks+ was born out of that assignment.

stacks+ is an application designed for mobile and wearable platforms which augments the stack-browsing experience by showing titles missing from the shelves and making other kinds of connections between resources visible in order to encourage serendipitous discovery

Researchers and other library users rely on the stacks, along with reference librarians and electronic search tools, to help them find new resources and avenues for exploration—when a patron retrieves a book, a host of relevant titles are laid out for her in its vicinity. But what about when that perfect neighboring book happens to be checked out or in offsite storage? What if other types of information could be added to the stacks’ interface? Leveraging immersive, lightweight technology and designed with input from librarians and researchers, the stacks+ application addresses common frustrations and missed opportunities in the library browsing experience.

Library patrons often have difficulty finding not only the books they are looking for but also those that could be useful if the patron were only aware of them. Indeed, library browsing can be unwieldy, with long call numbers spread across stacks on multiple floors or in multiple wings, which further exacerbates problems in conducting library-based research. Thus, we hope to facilitate library browsing in order to make research more seamless, more serendipitous, and thus more productive.

Thus far our team has prototyped the design of the stacks+ application for Google Glass. We have in this pursuit explored design precedents and problems of both the technology and the unique context of libraries, particularly when in terms of research. This process included some ethnographic research involving librarians and library users. We look forward to working on this project again soon.