Our Growing Knowledge – the Evolution of Research was officially opened by Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee last week.
Over the next nine months, we will be using a dedicated exhibition to explore what technological tools will shape the library’s future research facilities.
The exhibition aims to challenge visitors on how research is changing and ask what you want to experience from the library of the future.
I have volunteered to be a guide to the exhibition so do drop by and say hello.
Working with hardware partner HP and software partner Microsoft, the library is showcasing a range of research tools, including a prototype of Sony’s RayModeler 360-degree Autostereoscopic Display that uses gesture control to view static and moving 3D images and video.
At the end of the Growing Knowledge exhibition, the British Library will evaluate the tools and decide which have been most useful for researchers – a term the library uses to describe anyone using its resources.
Richard Boulderstone, CIO at the British Library, explained: “It’s about trying to explore what tools and services we should provide for researchers in future. What is the future of the library? What tools, spaces, technologies should we provide for researchers?”
Clive Izard, head of creative services at the British Library, added: “We are evaluating the way researchers will work in an area that is not hushed and quiet – where people will be more collaborative physically.
“At the end [of the exhibition] we will produce a report. JISC [independent advisory body providing advice on ICT use to higher education] is going to take the findings and incorporate them into our services.”
The exhibition, which is running on a thin client solution, is testing everything from monitor set-up – from a single touch screen monitor to four standard monitors – to audio search software developed by Microsoft.
These tools, which include map rectification software that reshapes old maps over current maps, and a Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts tool that enables users to digitally delve into Austen’s handwritten manuscripts, will be alternated with other ones in the British Library’s portfolio over the nine months.
Researchers can also experiment with a Microsoft Surface Table, on which the British Library is showing an interactive, digital version of the world’s longest painting, the 19th century Garibaldi Panorama. A set of dials, developed with (University College London (UCL), also measures Twitter activity across nine capital cities.
The Growing Knowledge exhibition will run until 16 July 2011.