Bibliotheca II: The Library Test Kitchen

Note: Dual enrollment in 09115 Bibliotheca II and Moneo’s 03211 Behind Todays Architectural Trends is possible.

Bibibliotheca II: Library Test Kitchen builds off the momentum of Fall’s Bibliotheca seminar. The original Bibliotheca is not a prerequisite.

What form should the Harvard Library of the 21st century assume? Should it simply vanish into virtual desktops and merge into a timeless and placeless universal database? Should it alter its identity and become a workshop, a laboratory, an innovation incubator where emerging and future forms interact and dialogue with the relics of the past? Or should it simply merge with the university itself as a place of knowledge production and reproduction?

The Library Test Kitchen:
This is a seminar about making. We will focus on designing, building and deploying products, services & experiences, broadly defined, to the Harvard Library community. After a brief crash-course in library theory and practice, we will begin creative work. As projects gel, students will deploy them in “Test Kitchens” – partner libraries, such as the Loeb and Widener Libraries, that allocate portions of their public space to these experiments.

Generous funding will be provided by Prof. Robert Darnton and the Library Lab for the creation of Library Test Kitchen projects. Funds will be available on a kickstarter-style video application basis.

This course is an experimental collaboration providing special support and access to funds. We expect students to publicly document their progress and projects.

Example projects:

·The reference desk
·The in-library cellphone booth
·Signage & wayfinding
·Information capture – moving data from books to devices
·Strategies to make a library with 73 branches feel unified

Selected provocations/discussion topics:

·The library as university appliance
·The noisy library
·The library as co-working environment
·The library where new media acts like old media and old media acts like new
·The library where the atomic unit is no longer the book
·The library meets: coffeeshop / townhall / museum / theater / speak-easy
·The messy library
·The self-organizing library