In a couple of weeks at a library town hall meeting we’ll be getting together to share our current plans and thinking on sequencing the many spring and summer facilities projects that will begin in just a few weeks. The first project – it will happen during spring break – will be the removal of our 3M security gates from the front entrance, and the replacement of the entry tile with a heavy-duty ‘walk-off’ carpet. The 3M traffic counters will be replaced with more accurate electronic sensor ‘cameras’ that count people (but don’t take pictures of them). Just one of the exciting things about this project is that it improves the accuracy and granularity of data that we’ll have about library usage; and we’ll be able to report this data to building users and building partners to help them plan everything from when to clean carpets to where there are open seats to study.
The datification of the building and activity in the building – our ability to capture and visualize this data (“making the invisible visible“) – is a pretty interesting development. Libraries (like Seattle Public) have taken catalog search data and displayed it to library users, reflecting back to the community both its diversity and common interests. Here at Kennedy Library we’ve made our computer occupancy data visible, helping students find open computers. Even our hydration stations count plastic bottles saved (and, incidentally, tell us which are our most heavily used floors). What’s next? We are talking with campus about getting a building energy & water dashboard going for the library And in a completely different project, our Special Collections & Archives has teamed up with the Center for Expressive Technologies in an experiment to ‘datify’ how researchers navigate an archives box by filming and then heat-mapping pathways and choices.
This week Slate magazine published a thought-provoking piece by Matthew Noah Smith, “An iPhone is an Extension of the Mind,” that makes the case that “the FBI by its demands and Apple by its legal rejoinders have raised deeper questions about the moral significance of our devices.” Philosopher Andy Clark’s ‘extended mind hypothesis’ suggests that “we have no reason to treat the brain alone as the only place where mental processes can occur,” and, Smith concludes, “Our minds extend beyond our heads and into our phones.” Is there a parallel here with libraries’ determination that patron borrowing records should be treated as their ‘extended mind’?
Have a great weekend,