Smart library

The library as a living laboratory

DTU Library will take part in creating data that can contribute to the university’s research, and will collect data that can be used to analyse the library users’ behaviour to provide a better individual service, says team leader at DTU Library, Lars Binau. Sabrine Mønsted has asked him five questions.

DTU Library is going to be a Smart Library. What exactly does that mean?

“Basically, it is about creating an ‘intelligent’ library, where we focus on four elements. One element is to make the best possible individual learning environment for the students. So every student should be able to adjust lighting and temperature where they are in the room. Another element is to produce data that can be used for research at DTU. The library wants to be a living laboratory, where we, the students and the researchers can test things and new technologies. Thirdly, we will create a library space, which teachers and students want to use for innovation and actual teaching – a technological playground. The fourth and last element in being a Smart Library is a question of being economically viable. Our solutions must be eco-friendly to save energy and money, which will help finance the other elements.”

What are you doing in the library at the moment?

“The library is going to have new lamps installed, which are now being developed. Apart from optimal reading light, which the students should be able to adjust via their mobile phones, the lamps will have sensors that can provide knowledge about the users’ behaviour, which we can use for improving our services. We will be able to see which exhibitions or events the users are interested in, whether the students notice our signs and which areas or furniture in the room are the most popular.”

How will the sensors provide data for research?

“The sensors will make DTU Library a living laboratory. The researchers can test all kinds of situations in the library’s 3,000 square meters. This might be research into indoor climate such as temperature, air humidity or particle level or various forms of user behaviour. It could also be patents developed at DTU that are tested at the library, so the researchers provide documentation for the patent.”

Are there any ethical considerations in relation to collecting data on the users?

“Yes, and being a library we have to be cautious and careful in handling data. It is important that the users know that collecting data will help us to enrich the everyday lives of the students at DTU and that most of the data will be anonymized before going in to a research project. Transparency in the way data is preserved is also important. The library will also be more involved in teaching and guiding the researchers in future demands of for example preservation of research data.”

What are the future prospects of the Smart Library?

“A vision in the Smart Library concept is to use the ‘proximity technology’ to enhance our services in the library. One example is Bluetooth; this technology can be used for registering who and how many are attending an event and send a message to the participants with information. This technology can also be used to guide the users in the library collection and it will be possible to create a guided tour through the library services with video tutorials. And all of these intelligent solutions can be tailor-made to the users’ needs.”

Journalist B.Soc.Sc.