Future Libraries Lab

The National Library of the Netherlands and TU Delft announce new Delft Design Lab

Nieuws - 06 februari 2020 - Communication

Only a generation ago, libraries were silent, studious and reliably solid spaces. You went there to look up a fact, to browse and borrow books, or to be inspired by the stories leaping off the physical page. But in the digital age, the relationship between people and information is changing and libraries are compelled to rethink their role as the curator and keeper of knowledge, and as the facilitator of education and dialogue.

The Future Libraries Lab – a collaboration between the National Library of the Netherlands (de Koninklijke Bibliotheek) and researchers from TU Delft’s Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering and Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)  – aims to accelerate this process with a multidisciplinary approach combining knowledge and expertise in design, computer science, and digital libraries.

As a Delft Design Lab it will bring together students, researchers and practitioners to tackle technological and design-oriented challenges that cannot be overcome by an individual library working on its own. Questions like the role which innovative technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality can play in enabling, facilitating, and mediating access to knowledge. And how the design of library processes and programmes might evolve to accommodate for the knowledge and needs of a digital and diverse society.

The lab’s first two projects are already tackling such questions. The project, Describing Images, considers how imagery from books and magazines might be made more accessible to users with a visual impairment by tapping into the power of crowd computing. Parels van Drenthe examines how new technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) can contribute and enhance residents of the Drenthe’s provinces experience of local stories and artefacts.

These first projects, presented at the National Library of the Netherlands’ Innovation Day on 6th February are the starting point for research on three main themes, namely: Knowledge Access and Discovery, Libraries for Individuals and Communities, and Diversity and Inclusion in Future Libraries.

Alessandro Bozzon, Professor of Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence at TU Delft’s Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering commented: “The digitalization of knowledge allows for new and personalised forms of content delivery, for example audio books podcasts and virtual reality. It also pushes us to consider new approaches and tools for education, professionalisation, and community building and engagement. In the Future Libraries Lab, working together with the Dutch National Library and several public libraries, we will research the needs and desires of library users in order to develop more appealing and informative interactions and experiences.”

Martijn Kleppe, the National Library’s head of research commented: “Digital forms of service delivery are not only a necessary development for libraries but also a great a great opportunity for our sector. We are looking forward to exploring the possibilities with TU Delft’s students and researchers.”


Future Libraries Lab Director

Faculty of IDE

Future Libraries Lab Researchers

Faculty of IDE

Faculty of EEMCS

Dr.ir. Cynthia Liem

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