Future Libraries Hackathon – what did the teams create?

November 18, 2016

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by Anna Grant, Carnegie UK Trust

‘Reimagining the role and functions of the library’. That’s what our recent Future Libraries Hackathon set out to do in Edinburgh’s technology incubator, CodeBase.

The Carnegie UK trustScottish Libraries and Information Council and Product Forge, hosted this immersive event over a long weekend. Watch some highlights.

The hackathon began on Thursday evening with introductions and idea generation. Teams were formed to include a cross section of skills including design, development and entrepreneurial thinking.

On Friday the participants were joined by Library experts from nine different local authority areas across Scotland to take part in workshops on topics including open data and agile storyboarding. The experts were invaluable to the development of ideas into products, as they provided detailed insight into the specific challenges facing the library sector.

Saturday involved a visit to Edinburgh Central Library to gather feedback from the public. This gave the teams a much clearer understanding of their potential user groups and allowed the participants to appreciate the environment in which their products would be used.

On Sunday, the teams were given support to develop their 6 minute presentations and prepare for the judges Q&A. Seven teams pitched a diverse selection of products and even several working prototypes.

The products were:

  • (Winner) Library GO: A gamified app to encourage young adults to become library users through a rewards based system. They approached the task by analysing why they themselves were not library users and researching what apps were the most popular for their age group. They identified that gamifying activities within the library such as checking out a book or attending an event in exchange for meaningful rewards would be a sustainable and easily manageable tool for libraries to attract new library users.
  • (Runner up) Storing Stories: Digital tool for collecting user stories and qualitative data about library impact on users. They identified that whilst a lot of quantitative data exists, librarians have few easy and quick tools to collect and process qualitative data about the impact of the library and specific initiatives. They therefore created Storing Stories, a graphical app where users select images rather than text to summaries impact and allowing geographical mapping of impact.
  • LampLighter: Facilitation of face to face study groups and peer to peer learning through a digital platform that creates and signposts online educational resources. They understood the power of the librarians in facilitating events but also the effectiveness of bringing people together to learn. Their platform allows users to search for online courses and join up with other learners and learn together within library spaces to encourage higher completion rates.
  • Go Library!: Website for finding and booking space in libraries to facilitate increased use of library spaces and community engagement. They identified that whilst libraries were running numerous events, there was no unified platform to for search events across multiple libraries. In addition, hosting your own event at a library was quite a difficult process. So they developed a platform which allowed users to efficiently search for specific events, browse available spaces and host events.
  • Team Alexandria: Tailored resource recommendations based on the wider range of facilities that library offer, to encourage increased usage. The team were impressed by the wide variety of resources that the library has to offer. Therefore, they created a recommendations system that provides the user not just book recommendations, but results from music, DVDs, events and other library resources. This gives the user a more personalised and localised experience.
  • SpaceBook: A hotdesk booking tool for library users with library manager interface. The team used their own experiences of difficulties in finding desk space to create SpaceBook an app which allows users to not only book space but understand the environment of that space by listing floor plans, photos and additional information such as plug points.
  • Luzme: eBook database that can be linked with public library stock. Luzme focuses on the challenge of understanding eBook availability. They created alerts linked to the existing eBook website that identifies when an eBook is available in a local library.

The winner and runner up received a cash prize and all teams have been offered continued support to develop their products, we hope a few might have some exciting news to share soon.

We’ll also be sharing our top tips on how to run a hackathon, keep up to date with the latest news by searching #FutureLibPF