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Recap of digital innovations at ILI 2019

Sophie AllenBy Sophie Allen
Category - Blog

Monday 21st October 2019

The 2019 annual Internet Librarian International (ILI) conference was hosted in Olympia, London last week. Delegates were brought together from across the globe to discuss best practices in library innovation and share their knowledge and experiences in our world of digital libraries.

I attended on behalf of the OpenAthens team to gather some insights from the presentations and chat to fellow delegates – plus it was my first opportunity to represent our organisation at an international conference.

The morning kicked off with a keynote presentation by Yvonne Campfens, a consultant at Campfens management in the Netherlands. Her presentation explored what we can learn from start-ups in order to expand our vision and drive productivity. She focused heavily on the importance of defining your vision (or “ocean”), your tools (or “boat”) and your purpose (or “wind”). A lack of recognition of these will lead to a turbulent and imprecise path to reach your goal. Most importantly, Yvonne stressed the need for collaboration with partners (or “speedboats”) and an agile mindset above all to ensure success.

A team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design talked through their process in designing an iconic user experience within their new library for students. They detailed the planning and execution process for deciding the library look and feel and the functionality and technology they required, displaying an extremely modern and digital-focused finished space as a result.

Ken Chad then presented a talk on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in future libraries due to their large data sets. This session was interesting as Ken talked about the learning analytics work of Jisc (our parent company), which is developing systems that monitor different data sources to monitor the well-being of university students. Some good discussions were had on student privacy issues and the difference between a large data-set and one of high quality and how this might affect the accuracy of AI.

Case studies were then presented on some digital innovations that had been undertaken to improve the experience for their end users:

  • South Lancashire library service demonstrated how their integration of augmented reality is helping students learn more effectively.
  • Woburn public library from the US presented on how their library had undertaken some unique technology initiatives including a 3D printing service and a scheme for renting, flying and racing drones.
  • Region Gävleborg from Sweden then demonstrated how they introduced virtual reality into learning in the classroom. Their team used the technology to tell stories of the world heritage site farmhouses that hold an important place in Swedish history.

The National Library of Scotland presented their methodology for collecting user feedback, which they achieved via graffiti walls, observations and exit interviews. Louise McCarron from the institute spoke in detail on their results and how they are showing users the recommended changes. An example includes a request on a graffiti wall for more collaborative spaces, which was answered with a direct action displayed on the same wall space. The next steps were discussed, including using the graffiti wall at different times and strengthening the findings with focus groups and further observational periods.

Finally, Susan Powelson from the University of Calgary presented on the process of redesigning their new library website and consequent user engagement improvement with the finished site. Susan raised some interesting points, including how important user testing is as the designer carries ‘internal knowledge’ bias and how insightful mapping the user journey is to the design of a website.

The conference was a great example of the impressive work that libraries are doing to embrace the digital shift in the access of knowledge. Thank you to the organisers of the conference and we look forward to next year!

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