Re-imagining Technology’s Role in the Library Building

Re-imagining Technology’s Role in the Library Building

Sue Thompson and David Walker of Cal State San Marcos gave us an excellent presentation, which focused on public computing and instruction labs as well as a Web page redesign in their new Kellogg Library. I am going to limit my focus to the public computing and instruction lab portion of the presentation for the purpose of this review.

Anticipating completion of the new library building in the winter of 2004 gave the team at San Marcos the opportunity to examine and plan out exactly how they wanted to approach the new technology that would be implemented in the building. Rather than just “install a bunch of computers and software” the librarians and IT staff worked together to define the use of technology in the library space. Historically, technology in the library is used to access the OPAC, databases and software applications. However since most patrons can now accomplish these activities from home, the team asked, “What is the purpose for coming to the library.” Important question!

The team at San Marcos came up with a technology plan, which focused around the goals of encouraging the use of library expertise in research and instruction as well as creating an environment supportive of the iterative research process.

The library went from 40 to 240 public computing workstations. Workstation placement and images were extremely well thought out to provide maximum access to resources as needed. Furniture was designed and chosen with an eye to making it comfortable to study and use workstations for a long period of time. Three instruction labs were created to support the library’s teaching mission. Each one has a customized layout and image to support different presentation styles and needs. Very interesting and popular is the “Collaboratorium” which was designed for group study and research. Lecterns and supporting equipment were designed and operate under a model that proposes that technology must support, enhance but not get in the way of instruction. Staff has found some of the most popular features in the new labs to be the desktop control of all peripherals through an in house application and instructor control of all training stations through Altiris Vision and MasterPointer. A highly specialized media edit station allows full audio and video creation functionality.

Very importantly Susan also discussed the unforeseen things that came up which included new responsibilities, which we probably all know too well such as microforms, laptop checkout, pay for print and adaptive technology. Hats off to the folks at Cal State San Marcos for coming up with a top notch and well-received technology integration plan in their library and big thanks for sharing their experience with us as well!

3D Information Visualization: An Introduction and Practical Applications

This morning Brad Eden of the University of Nevada gave us a very nice overview of
3-D Information Visualization. The concept of Information Visualization can be defined loosely in a number of ways, but basically boils down to the representation of nonspatial data as visual objects with easily perceived relationships and patterns.

Information Visualization is becoming increasingly important in online communication and instruction. When we look at the ways our users are consuming information, increasingly by choice, they do so visually. Virtual collaborative spaces are springing up all over the Internet as is the use of multiplayer online games coupled with the use of avatars and other visual persona, landscapes and environments. Why?

“Tell me and I’ll forget…
Show me and I may remember…
Involve me and I’ll understand.”
Ancient Chinese Proverb

Increasingly faculty is looking at ways of utilizing Information Visualization to represent traditional text based and flat structure information. We looked at several examples including a 3-D map from the Rumsey map collection, which was running on GIS software through Luna Insight. There is a plethora of possibilities when it comes to 3-D presentation techniques.

Current programming languages involving 3-D are primarily Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML)/eXtensible 3D (X3D) and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG).

We reviewed some library OPACs that are currently incorporating some type of Information Visualization such as AquaBrowser. You can see an example at the Lexington Public Library

One of the most interesting applications of 3-D Visualization technology can be experienced by taking a look at Cubic Eye. CubicEye breaks out your browser window into a cube with each “wall” functioning as an independent browser window. Individual 3-D elements, if supplied on the Web page, can be rotated on the floor of the cube for further examination.

We also examined several 3-D projects in the humanities, which utilized 3-D technologies to recreate architectural and anthropological sites on the web.

We can utilize these tools in our libraries not only by making our users aware of what is available in terms of completed projects in their subject areas, but also by exploring and incorporating Information Visualization into our service delivery and instruction. The serious consideration and utilization of visual technologies will add an increased level of appeal and interest in a language our users are already fluent in and accustomed to using.