Internal:Library Lab

From Wikimedia District of Columbia
Revision as of 16:31, 30 August 2011 by Aude (talk | contribs) (create)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A Library Lab' or LibLab is a hackspace for knowledge demonstration project at the DC Public Library. The lab is designed as a community center for annotation, classification, creation, curation, digitization; education and publication, reading and writing and media production. The LibLab demonstration project is part of the Digital Public Library of America Beta Sprint initiative, demonstrating modular components that could be replicated elsewhere.

LibLab has a modular design, with up to a dozen research and collaboration modules. Each module provides the tools and space needed to work on collaborative knowledge production, research, or learning and teaching. They can support digital public libraries, existing physical workshops, and communities without such spaces at all. Different configurations can be installed in unused storefronts, sheltered outdoor areas, kiosks, and existing public buildings.

The LibLab concept is being prototyped at the DC Public Library's Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library, in downtown Washington, D.C., from September to the end of December 2011.


We will define a Library Lab as a standalone hackspace for people to work collaboratively on knowledge - creating, organizing, and sharing it. This will include digitization, annotation, publishing, and use of existing tools for library research and collection-making, particularly for personal and neighborhood projects.

A Lab will be a space for community members, educators, and librarians to learn about new tools, to develop personalized workspaces, and to run classes and workshops for others. It will include physical tools such as cameras and scanners and mixers and computers, and software tools for design, automation, mixing, and working with datasets.

This idea is based loosely on the model of FabLabs, which provide similar hackspace in 100+ labs around the world for engineering/hacking physical objects.

We will develop a prototype lab in Washington DC, co-located at the DC Public Library's Martin Luther King Jr. Library. The lab will run through the end of December 2011. Through course of running the lab, we will test various ideas and concepts, and seek feedback from public users and librarians.


The Wiki Society of Washington, DC, together with the DC Public Library, Noll and Tam, Architects, and Boston Wikipedians, is working on this project over the Summer and Fall 2011.

Related programs and efforts

  • The Uni Project - an open-air reading-space initiative starting in NYC and Boston. This could define 2-3 of the modules available to a LibLab.


Lab design

Chris Noll of Noll and Tam Architects is taking a lead on the design work.

Ideas for blueprints, modular furniture, whiteboards; space for discussion and hacking, for machines, for solo work. Specific use cases and sketched ideas are welcome. If you know interested architects or designers, please invite them to get involved.


Use cases for a lab

please add to this list!

  • Support for month-long projects, a place to store work in progress.
  • Large-group workshops and community projects, in the library and the community (community mapping, journalism, archiving)
  • Hackathons, bringing together the DC techies and library folks
  • Group reading space, open reconfigurable space for 1-10 people to sit together
  • Reference and discovery and curation work: raw 'content' organization and publishing.
  • Creating you own Wikimedia "books" via the books extension, printing them out, basic binding/drilling
  • Printing/binding PD texts via OpenLibrary or class materials
  • Digital restoration of special collections [not the initial digitization, but the cleanup]
  • Classification of image and map archives
  • Collection bulding: gathering local books and other materials
  • Using a gps and camera / videocamera. mapping, taking geotagged photos; updating OSM and Commons.
  • Recording center (semi-soundproofed) for interviews and other recordings.
  • Recording kits that can be checked out; see StoryCorps kits
  • Multimedia center for media remixing
  • Local news, podcasts, oral histories
  • Arts and crafts station and materials
Digitization, archiving
  • Bulk scanning and OCR of books, uploading the results to wikisource via bot.
  • Digitizing tools for migrating older media, including analog audio
  • Archiving tools for migrating older digital media, including access to a large fileserver [via network?].
  • Work with local museums to digitize and categorize materials
Other Tools
  • Access to a wide variety of hardware tools, to check out and learn to use properly
  • Access to a wide variety of software tools, to use on a few dedicated stations
  • Equipment checkout : making use of carts and local reputation
  • An accessibility center
  • ...

Volunteers needed

Needed: tech / teacher / organizer volunteers!

Libraries and other venues often have space but lack staff to man a potential lab. We have one volunteer to organize the space so far (thank you!), and could use 5-6 more who are free at least part of each week.

We need volunteers to oversee the lab during open hours (at least in the afternoon every day), run introductory sessions for newcomers, and facilitate use of the space by the various projects that may pass through. For example: in DCPL, they have a project working with teens to make and publish news pieces and radio, a neighborhood program to digitize community histories. The people currently running those projects will need introduction into the lab and some initial guidance in using it. Both of those projects might want to learn how to generate and publish wiki materials. There are also community archiving projects run by the Building Museum who might be a good fit.

If you enjoy showing people how things work, people who become interested will need to be shown how to use all of the tools, and how to run their own workshops showing others how to use their favorites. Ex: there are dozens of summer volunteers around the public libraries in the summer, some might choose to work in the lab. A good guide for running such tutorials could become standard for labs across the contry.

Workshops and activity ideas

  • OpenStreetMap mapping parties & workshops
  • Wikipedia newbies workshops
  • Wikipedia editathons
  • MediaWiki tech topics
  • Using social tools in the library. (e.g. [1])
  • Hackathons - BookShare, DevHouseDC, maps/geo hackathon, GLAM-tech hackathon (?) or others
  • Wiki Mondays (?)
  • Please add ideas

Other ideas and inspiration could come from FabLabs, YOUmedia labs, CCTV centers, hand-on museums, "creation stations", high-throughput scan centers. How could a combination of these work well together? We can learn from people who have done this, or organizations dedicated to this. [see the Association of Science-Technology Centers]

Event calendar

  • OpenStreetMap Mapping Party: September 3, 2011 - Chinatown / Penn Quarter; meet at Martin Luther King Jr. DC Public Library, 11 am (until ~3 pm)
  • DC Wikipedia Meetup #22 : September 10, 2011, 1pm
  • Oct 15 - DPLA exhibit in DC. [possible field trip to bring the group to visit the lab]

Further reading

Here is some material about similar (loosely defined) library spaces: