Tag Archives: Library

Week 11: The commentary on Newserve

5 Oct

Newserve is a data mashup entry of LibraryHack. A mashup is “a web page, or web application, that uses and combines data, presentation or functionality from two or more sources to create new services”. The goal of Newserve is to make the related data visible to search and to use. It is a good product but it needs to be developed further. You can see the following video (from 3colors) which shows several steps of the search process.

The search interface is easy to understand for finding relevant information. It includes the map with relevant timeline glider on the top. It makes the search visible by using selected Google map data, State Library of NSW‘s newspaper catalogue data and Trove digitized newspaper metadata and relevant content. On the map-based interface, the user can see the available newspapers with their metadata from State Library of NSW and/or Trove during every specific time period. The time can be changed by simply moving the timeline glider on the top. This data mashup is created by Shahid (the web and data miner), Iqbal (the  web and solution implementor) and Asif (the designer). The designing team analyses the information first. Then the selected information fields are used. The datasets are indexed and arranged on the map with the related timeline. As a result, all the metadata about the newspapers in State Library of NSW collection and all the digitized newspapers’ contents with their metadata are combined together. It is interesting that when a user presses the play icon on the top, the timeline is gliding automatically and the map is showing the information about the newspapers at the same time.

The usability of the mashup seems to need some improvements. Basically, it is usable and useful. The search field is limited in two sections: catalogue data and Trove data. The search is available by inputting a title, and/or a location, and/or time for the catalogue information in State Library of NSW collection. For the newspaper collection in Trove, a user even can type a keyword for the search, in addition to typing a title, and/or a location, and/or time. Then the content of the newspaper will appear. Of course, a user can search the metadata information in Trove section too. But, the keyword search was confusing at some points when I conducted some search. This aspect is essential for user experience. Thus, the usability needs to be improved.

According to its goal, this mashup need develop further. The mashup is not as simple as it seems. The goal for this design is “to provide a single point of access to all newspaper resources in libraries of Australia – whether it be just catalogue information of the newspapers stored in the libraries of Australia or be the digitized newspaper collections”. But the available datasets are not sufficient for this good intention. Furthermore, experimental Trove API is used to access Trove data. The official Trove API is developing now. So, if the official API is launched in the future, this mashup might be not useful anymore. This aspect is connected with the current situation of the datasets. Stephens states that the “creative thinking, professional knowledge and technical skills” are crucial along with the understanding of the available data and the potential services to successfully mash up the data. (Stephen, 2011, p. 245). Hence, the data are important for the success.

In conclusion, this mashup has bridged some gaps between the content of the newspapers, the metadata of the newspaper, the location, and the timeline visually. It is a good try. The visibility of the data of this creation looks amazing. The design team has creative ideas, good expertise. However, to manipulate the raw data to create a popular web design product, the user experience needs to be investigated further. This includes more skills in the interaction design. And the datasets also need to be sufficient to enhance the search. The format of the mashup can be designed further too, such as adding audio datasets, if it is possible. The creation process seems endless!


Stephens, Owen. (2011). Mashups and open data in libraries. Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community, 24(3), 245-250. doi: 10.1629/24245


Week 10: The important role of gaming in libraries

1 Oct

Gaming is the act of playing a game”. In libraries, the role of gaming is getting noticed more and more, especially in public libraries. The role of gaming, including gamification, will be important in libraries’ development in the coming years. There are many reasons for this trend. However, this role also can’t be overestimated.

The reasons for the importance of gaming in libraries are:

(1)  Game has the nature for fun and engaging people in library service. This nature will change the serious and/or boring activities into an interesting experience. In reality, many people might think a library is a boring place. They come to a library just for looking some information. When the games being used in the library, some people began to change their thinking. The good games would attract more patrons to the library for sure. Games and library activities can be combined together. In fact, “many games help develop practical skills, serve as a form of exercise, or otherwise perform an educational, simulational, or psychological role”. This is the games’ role in libraries.

(2)  Gamification trend will enhance gaming in a modern way in libraries, because of the functions of gamification. Gamification is a kind of gaming and it will develop rapidly. The role of gamification will be crucial for attracting the clients. According to Gartner Gamificaton Report 2011, gamification is a global trend, and it has created great opportunities for businesses. the same principle is applied to libraries’ development. Involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence form four functions of gamification in the libraries. For example, reward systems and word-of-mouth efforts are parts of involvement.

(3)  Gamification will encourage collaborations among the community of the library. For instance, the gamification software maybe enable users trace other patrons’ reading history and find the people with a similar reading pattern. In the library catalogue, users might use rating, review or recommendation to inform other patrons to use certain service.

(4)  Early starters of libraries have shown that gamification would be an essential element for a library. There are successful gamification activities appeared in both public and academic libraries, such as “Orangetree” for public libraries and “Lemontree” for academic. Crowdsourcing is another function for gamification used in libraries, and it helps the libraries complete their massive work which would be impossible if only using the current staff in the libraries.  For example, hall of fame  has ranked the people who did their correcting job in Trove website to show their credit and to encourage people do more contributions.

Despite of the above factors, the limitation of game is also needed to consider. According to Kim (2012): (1) Poor gamification design will give negative effect to the users. If the design is too simple or too hard for the user group, then it will not be suitable. (2) “If a library offers many different games or a variety of gamified experiences all at once, users may become overwhelmed and tired.” (3) The design focusing on education rather than the fun element of the gaming is a failure, so is the organisation-centred design.

To conclude, if gaming is used properly, the library services would be improved in the future.

Last update: Thursday, 3 October 2013, at 10:10 AEST

Week 10: An outline of a gamification plan

1 Oct

A gamification design includes the fields about: “a rich body of methods, a critical ethical awareness, as well as insight into the design and dynamics of collaborative, reputation, and incentive systems” (Deterding, 2012, p. 17). The following content is only an outline of a gamification plan for a school library base on Deterding’s indication.

Definition of gamification:

Gamification is a business strategy which applies game design techniques to non-game experiences to drive user behaviour”.


This plan is for a high school’s library catering about 2000 students, teachers and other staff. It is found that some students have never used the library after entering the school.


  • To inform the students the whole range of the items and services available in the library and the ways to use them
  • To increase the usage of the service
  • To help the students use the library efficiently and effectively in a fun and engaging way
  • To improve the quality of the service
  • To enhance study skill and the students’ talent
  • To build a community in which everybody interacts with each other
  • To foster a positive experience instead of a boring one when the user is using the service

Suggested methods (based on the library management system):

  • Enrich the library catalogue with social functions, such as rating, review, recommendation, and sharing in Facebook.
  • Create a Facebook page for the library.
  • Create a website with gamified activities with some suitable game mechanics and updated it continuously. So the students will have a chance to engage in the gamified activities to explore the resources and services available in the library. This might need a professional game designer according to the funding or other situation. This might need to use one of the game of books starter kit or similar software, if it fits the library catalogue.
  • In the first term for the new students, paper questionnaires will be hand out to let the students explore the library and answer questions. When they have completed they will get the answer sheet with some rewards in their library account. This might be done through online mobile services.
  • Customized stickers will be used for some collections. If students can find them, they will be asked to take photos and send to the service account system. They will eventually get some points for win a prize, or a badge, or a tuckshop coupon through their library accounts.
  • Manage a blog that could encourage the community to interact with each other and obtain awards at the same time.
  • Collect feedbacks and give the students credit immediately online or in the library.
  • Design progress bars. e.g. In the student’s profile, it may show the time for each item towards its due date. When a bar showing that it is nearly the time to return, make it seems an alarm to remind the user and when it is returned, show a congratulation signal.

Some Game mechanics:

How to make sure that it is successful:

  • Test the playfulness and other user experience aspects to see if it is well designed before implementation. The playfulness should be the first factor to consider.
  • Maintain and update the system by using sustainable standard and feedbacks
  • Check whether they are too simple or too hard for the users
  • Provide an alternative way for some people not enjoying the way which most people like, because everybody is different. Don’t expect to satisfy every use in one way.
  • To avoid information overload, it is suggested that do not use all the methods at once. Thus, choose the ones that suit the specific situation and prioritize them. Apply them step by step.

In conclusion, “successful gamification should bring out learning as a natural by-product of pleasant and fun experiences, not as a forced outcome”.


Deterding, S. (2012). Gamification: Designing for motivation. Interactions, 19(4). doi: 10.1145/2212877.2212883