Gamification, augmented reality and new generation library software

The role of new technologies in libraries was explored in a session at Internet Librarian International.

Libraries are using technologies and applications in new ways to transform their services and to increase engagement with their communities. 

Gamification - play with purpose

If play is unstructured and games are structured and rule based then gamification benefits from being a combination of the two.    Iman Moradi, of Running in the Halls helped create The Lemon Tree library game and described to delegates at Internet Librarian International why gamification can be so powerful in a library setting.

Discovery can be a major obstacle in libraries, while passive experiences can be boring.  Gamification can help amplify the existing components of a library, encouraging interaction and engagement.  Users can interact with each other and the game encourages reciprocity, socialising and discovery.  The game, during which players grow a virtual lemon tree, documents their entire ‘learning journey'. 

The most successful examples of gamification should attract, retain and engage library users.  The key challenge is to get the right balance between play and purpose.

Augmented reality in libraries - SCARLET

MIMAS, based at the University of Manchester, supports the advancement of excellence in teaching, research and learning with a particular focus on technology.  SCARLET was a collaborative project, bringing together a mixed team of experts to develop an augmented reality app that could bring students closer to rare documents held in special collections.

The tools developed by the project help students interact with rare objects while providing additional contextual information.

Key lessons for success

  • The importance of excellent planning
  • The power of an enthusiastic mixed team, combining technologists, students, academics and content specialists
  • Development should be driven by learning outcomes
  • The use of AR should always be contextual

You can read more about Project SCARLET here and follow the team on twitter @team_scarlet.

The increased scope of library software

Library software is extending its scope and providing a new generation of resources and services which engage communities in new ways.  David Johnston of Applied Network Solutions described just some of the new ways in which library software can support broad community engagement.

Interesting examples include:

  • A library selling the art works of local artists via its site. This provides a revenue generation stream for the library which takes a small commission
  • Creating news feeds
  • Providing templates which facilitate community publishing and editing
  • Enabling safe private messaging services for groups and individuals
  • Providing translation services

The speakers were presenting at Internet Librarian International 2012.

Image courtesy of Beinecke Library via Flickr.