The Living Color

Redefining the bookshelf.

Many people use to think that the Internet would mean the end of libraries and libarians be replaced by robots. The City Library of Malmö is much more than that. The libraries and librarians are providing resources, support and services that you simply cannot get from a computer. Our goal was to exploit the knowledge of librarians and to develop a tool that helps them to highlight and expand the books directly at the shelf.

A carefully curated library with an experienced librarian can help you find what you are looking for much more easily than a search engine, and you will also encounter useful material you would not have considered searching for. Libraries are also great places for study, learning, reflection and social interaction, so it is important for society that their true value continues to be realized.
The Malmö City Library has 550.000 different media, about 10.000 DVDs and 33.500 music CDs. In 2006 it became the first library in Sweden to lend video games. A library based on this size needs a tool to draw attention to items that are suggested by librarians. Key values in our process were to express the knowledge of librarian in a subtle but playful way and a flexible system which can be adopted to any shelf. We needed to understand how users interact with a shelf and how the space can naturally react on the presence of the user.

Prototyping in the library.

Early Prototyping in the Studio.

As an innovative library the Malmö City Library does unexpected things to inspire fascination and encourage people to visit. This experiment solves a problem, in which librarians physically have to move books to another shelf in case it is part of a collection in an entrance area for instance. This disrupts the library’s unique system.
It also helps to highlight books that may not be as often borrowed as others but are definitely worth reading. The librarians have now a tool to draw attention to these items and expand the content of each item individually by using well curated animations.

For our prototype we decided to use a Kinect V2 for an exact determination of the position, Processing and a short-distance projector for the visualizations.