Library Test Kitchen

Students from HarvardUniversity are envisioning the future of libraries in creative new ways by developing devices to transform the library as a physical place.

Jeffrey Schnapp, a Romance languages and literatures professor, teamed up with professor of law, John Palfrey to re-imagine libraries of the 21st century.  With the help of designers and Harvard’s own library system, Schnapp and Palfrey were able to offer a seminar through the Graduate School of Design where students could design and develop new devices. These student projects could potentially impact how libraries provide and access information. The popularity of the fall seminar led to its return in the spring, when it became known as the “Library Test Kitchen.”

“By semester’s end, the brainstorming sessions had generated dozens of good ideas, and a few had become student projects: Biblio, a conceptualization of a hand-held device for scanning books that tracks and shares research and even makes bibliographic recommendations for further study (see the online video); Timeslice, a ‘graphical electronic bulletin board’ that lets library users post event announcements to a community calendar that incorporates digital graphics; Neo-Carrel, a study chair with a raised platform in front that doubles as a laptop stand and a comfortable place to rest one’s head for a nap (now installed in Lamont library); and a WiFi cold spot, a radically designed room for reflection or refuge from an increasingly connected world.”

For more information on the “Library Test Kitchen,” visit:


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