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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 and graveyard.


Current Experiments

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

Space experiment: “Unify the collection” in Hayden Library

The books in Hayden Library were once shelved on many various floors, which often made them difficult to locate. This experiment brings them together into a single, accessible flow in the basement, making the collection browsable without interruption.

Why this experiment?

Within this experiment, we hope to learn more about how the community browses and uses the collections, wayfinding, and what type of furniture/study space people most want or need near collections.

Experiment runtime: Spring – Summer 2017

Space experiment: Mezzanine flex spaces and study lofts in Hayden Library

The “Unify the collection” experiment allows us to remove shelving on the mezzanine levels of the first and second floor of the Hayden library. We can now use these spaces for other purposes: The first floor mezzanine will be developed as collaborative study/work space, and the second floor mezzanine will be a quiet study/work/reflection space.

Why this experiment?

With this experiment, we hope to learn more about the community’s work and study styles, preferences regarding types and arrangement of furniture, and general soundscaping. We’ll gather community feedback on these new spaces and explore further improvements. We’ll also explore options around privacy booths for phone/video calls, which has long been requested by the community.

Experiment runtime: Fall 2017 – Fall 2018

Reflecting Community through Art

This experiment aims to bring art depicting diverse communities into the Libraries to create a welcoming and inclusive space.

Why this experiment?

All the changes in Hayden have given us a chance to reconsider the art displayed throughout the library.

Experiment runtime: Fall 2017 – ongoing

Barker Active Learning Classroom

This new classroom space is built flexibly to allow for changes and iterations.

Why this experiment?

The new teaching and learning space will allow the Libraries’ instructional staff to develop teaching methods that our other spaces are not suited to accommodate.

Experiment runtime: Fall 2017 – Fall 2018