Brainstorming Touch Table Use
Touch tables can be a highly valuable addition to academic libraries, for instance to visualize a library's collection. In the Visual Navigation Project, we explored the needs and possibilities associated with touch tables. To discuss ideas with respect to innovative touch table use, we organized two brainstorm sessions, together with a Master student in Interaction Design.
These two brainstorms were based on a structured brainstorming technique, called 6-3-5 Brainwriting. Students at different levels, as well as librarians from different branches participated in these sessions. Together, the brainstorms have resulted in over seventy ideas for prospective uses of the touch table. As a next step, we organized all ideas that came up in the workshop via "affinity mapping": ideas that were similar were clustered together.
Sets of ideas
The resulting sets of related ideas include Exploration (“visually explore outer space”, “explore human body”, “explore citations”), Searching (“visually grouping search results by hand, reorder and arrange”, “searching based on author name”), and Navigation ("Choosing a discipline and subject, get highlighted map with library materials”, “maps of library services”, “map of things to do on campus”).
Moreover, some Discipline-centered ideas came up, such as “Digital experiments (e.g. physics, chemistry, biology)” and “physics simulations”. Other participants were inspired by ideas related to Gaming & Relaxation: “Quizzes”, “Making music, build instruments and play them together”, “drawing competition with AI”. Also, Collaboration & Creation was deemed important: “Creative lab - idea sourcing”, “Creating art”, “idea wall”, “collaborative space for group work”, “favorite book voting” and “photo walls”. Finally, Personalization was a major cluster of ideas: “Scan library card and get personalized info” and “scan book to find related content”.
Of course, we cannot realize all these ideas in the Visual Navigation Project. However, we are using these ideas as input for further developments within the project. For instance, we have started experimenting with integrating an RFID reader in the touch table, to realize some of the ideas towards personalization of touch table use.
Current and next steps
Actual use of the touch table in a Science Fiction setting has been studied by three students Interaction Design, as documented in previous news posts. Additionally, Yaron Okun, also involved in organizing the brainstorming sessions, is devoting his Master's thesis to the use of touch tables. He will look at visual ways to provide serendipitous navigation via touch tables. Finally, we are planning to use the touch table as part of an exhibition related to a screening of the upcoming science-related film Hidden Figures, which will be shown in the Science Library on 8 March 2017.