RPK

Rachel Payne Karasick

Library Innovation Lab

I’ve spent a good chunk of this summer with the fine folks of the Library Innovation Lab, which is housed in Harvard’s Law Library. The Library Innovation Lab (fondly referred to as LIL) exists at the intersection of law, librarianship, and technology. The LIL team is working on solutions for libraries and educational institutions, or as their website succinctly puts it: “We build things in libraries.”

LIL

The themes and goals of LIL projects seem to careen all over the map, but ultimately support the mission and collections of the Harvard Law Library. Though with projects spanning from visualization tools for library collections to the physical construction of library talking spaces [currently manifest as a cardboard phone booth prototype], there  seems to be plenty of room to tackle more universal library problems. The lab is fueled by a mix of individuals with tech, design, data, and legal backgrounds, with some superlibrarians thrown in the mix as well. It’s a fascinating place to spend time.

This summer I’ve been fellow-ing as a part of LIL’s summer fellowship program. There are five other fellows floating around the Lab this summer, as well as three dynamic LILterns. I’d like to share more about the fellow/LILtern projects in the future, but in the meantime there’s more info up on the people section of the LIL website. I’m pretty thrilled to be spending time with this crew and all of their big thinking.

During the fellowship I’ve been working on a research project that is focused on seeing where we might incorporate foundational tenets of librarianship into emerging Library of Things collections. The Library of Things trend has rapidly gained traction in public and academic libraries over the past five years. I’m especially interested in resource sharing, collective purchasing, and access considerations. The scope of the project has veered from quite close to home (interviewing other academic librarians who support ‘things’ lending in the Fenway Library Consortium) and further afield, trying to connect with public libraries that have fully invested in robust Library of Things collections. More updates on my research and the LIL experience coming soon. Better late than never!

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