Recent Events

Tomorrow’s Digital Library Today

Paul Pival

John Brosz

One of the most impressive and fascinating presentations of the conferences was the one by Paul Pival and John Brosz describing the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) at the University of Calgary, which opened in Fall 2011.  TFDL occupies 265,000 sq.ft. on 6 floors and was a $205M (Cdn) project.  It is said to be North America’s most technologically advanced library.   Click here to see a virtual tour of the library. The library’s vision is to be a state of the art learning and research center.  It includes not only the library, but a museum, archives, special collections and the university press.  Its motto is “We should imagine greatness”. A wealth of new technology was incorporated in the building (see below). Many of the services use touch technology and also permit the incorporation of student-generated content.   The building is completely wireless-enabled, and all cables, etc. run under raised flooring which provides an agile infrastructure.  The furniture is mobile technology-friendly.  There is an electrical outlet for every seat in the building.  All signage is digital.  Collaborative spaces are available and can be reserved by digital touch screens in the hallway.  The TeamSpot software for collaboration was obtained from Tidebreak. New people with new roles were necessary to manage all the technology.  “Peer Roamers” are students who offer help to users as needed. These things have worked well:  media walls, digital signage, MicroTiles, editingy suites, collaborative spaces, and electricity for every seat.  Some things have not worked so well:  touch workroom booking displays (because of faulty hardware) and touch kiosks have proven sensitive to sunlight, and the vendor does not have a commitment to deliver cutting edge technology.  So far, no killer application has been found for the touch tables.  But the TFDL has been a great success.  It is always full; gate counts have risen significantly. Interactive visualization development lab.  Recommendations: Display wall with 15 short-throw projectors.  Individual screens have small bezels so that the wall looks like a single screen.  It is all managed by Windows PCs. The library is a hub for visualization on campus and has produced visualizations of its operations and services (similar to what Seattle PL has done).

With all the new technology, new positions had to be created and filled.  Some of these were Peer Roamers (students offering help to their fellow students), a Visualization Lab Coordinator, and a Digital Media Commons Manager.

Things that have worked well in the library are media walls, digital signage, MicroTiles, editing suites, collaborative spaces, and especially an electrical outlet for EVERY seat.


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