The second aspect of data that caught my interest today was Harvard’s Library Innovation Laboratory. I must admit that when I saw the link to it I did wonder whether it was going to be a list of library tools aimed directly at users (I’m sure I’ve seen the name used elsewhere recently for just such a list). I know we are looking at redoing our library toolbox to update it and library lab or labspace sounded like a good name for something like that. But the Library Innovation Laboratory is much more interesting proof of concept for anyone with any interest in what you can do with library activity data.
Using library circulation data that has been contributed to the LibraryCloud there are some really imaginative prototype visualisations in the Stack View and Shelf Rank tools. Two values are shown instantly. The book width is determined by the numbers of pages in the book and the book colour corresponds to the volume of loans so the darker the blue the greater the traffic. Titles are then shown as a stack one on top of each other. It’s a really neat visualisation of the data and I’m already wondering if that approach would work equally well with visualising library data that is entirely electronic resources. [It’s actually one of the big problems about anything to do with electronic resources – that there isn’t really a universal icon or symbol that you can use that everyone recognises that it relates to stuff that is online and in electronic form].
There’s quite a lot of interesting stuff in the site and also in the LibraryCloud site at www.librarycloud.org. One of the things that particularly interested me (from experiences with the RISE Activity Data project) was the section about data privacy and anonymisation, as a key requirement always has to be that with any dataset where the aspiration is for open release, it must be prepared in a way that ensures that users are unable to be identified individually.
LibraryCloud currently has data from Harvard and Northeastern Universities and Darien, San Francisco and San Jose public libraries. A couple of sites to keep an eye on over the next few months.