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Experiments at the MIT Libraries

Welcome to the Experiments program at the MIT Libraries. Experiments encourage risk-taking, rapid prototyping, and experimentation to support the innovative use of our data, collections, and services. We invite the MIT community to work along with us, submit their own hack, or suggest an experiment.

Below is the list of experiments that are currently in progress. It’s important to note that these are not intended to be fully supported tools or services, but instead opportunities to test, hack, provide feedback, iterate, and improve upon a concept.

As you explore the experiments, let us know how useful or interesting each is, and whether it should become a part of the supported tools and services the Libraries provide. Try them out and tell us what you think.

(Wondering what happened to a past experiment? Check out our graduates (coming soon) and graveyard.


Current Experiments

Yewno

preview of Yewno
Yewno is a new type of discovery tool developed in Silicon Valley, which uses full text analysis and machine learning to create a visual, interactive map of connected concepts. The MIT Libraries is participating in a beta project along with several other institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Stonehill College, Bavarian State University, the University of California-Berkeley, and the University of Michigan.

Why this experiment?

The goals of this experiment are to:

  • encourage experimentation and creative thinking in the discovery space,
  • to evaluate the Yewno tool for possible inclusion in our discovery environment,
  • and to serve as a template for future “beta” projects within the Libraries.

Note: You must be on-campus or connected to the MIT VPN to access Yewno.

Experiment runtime: Fall 2016

Beta search

preview of beta search
The new beta search being developed in the MIT Libraries aims to make it easier to find books, movies, music, articles, journals, and the other valuable resources that the Libraries offer. Results are sorted into categories – books and media, articles and journals, and library website – to make it easier to scan and find a specific items.

Why this experiment?

The goals of this experiment are to:

  • make it easier to find known items,
  • provide a straightforward entry point for new library users,
  • and begin to own and improve on the discovery experience for the Libraries community.

Experiment runtime: Spring 2017

Class of 1982 Sequentiaryin Mirador using IIIF

preview of IIIF Sequentiary experiment
This experiment brings a rare archival object into the digital realm using the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) and the Mirador viewer which allows viewers to access, zoom, pan, and study this delicate artifact from the 15th or early 16th century. The MIT Libraries is experimenting with providing greater access to rare materials in our collections to broaden scholarly inquiry beyond the library walls.

Why this experiment?

An opportunity to collaborate with Prof. Myke Cuthbert and the Lewis Music Library around the Medieval and Renaissance Music (21M.220) class came out of the acquisition of this unique but fragile object and the earlier TryIIIF experiment in 2016.

Experiment runtime: Spring 2017

Fedora

Fedora is an open source repository system especially suited for digital libraries and archives, both for access and preservation. It can provide specialized access to very large and complex digital collections of historic and cultural materials as well as scientific data. The MIT Libraries will gain knowledge around text data mining and Fedora4 during this experiment.

Why this experiment?

Text and data mining are important areas to understand in order to offer supporting services to our research community.  Currently, this is not a standard feature within institutional repositories, which leaves publishers as the primary entities offering these services.

Experiment runtime: Fall 2016 – Fall 2017