Data analytics project funded for bricks-and-mortar public libraries

The number of book loans in Dutch public libraries is decreasing, whereas the size of the (book) collections is relatively stable. This calls for new business models of the public library in the modern, digital age, where information is omnipresent and the library is not the sole source of knowledge anymore.

26-11-2015 | 14:04

bibliotheek van lego

Many public libraries in the Netherlands have been very active with the concept of "the library of the future"; in particular the library of Alkmaar, which has changed the library towards what the general public might call a book store, with displays, recommendations and lots of visible book covers. To further bring the library to the digital age, one prominent idea is to blend physical and digital possibilites to have the best of both worlds.

Dr. ir. Martijn van Otterlo together with Dr. Frans Feldberg, both researchers in the KIN group of FEWEB, have initiated a new "data science" project on bridging the physical and the digital world in the context of the public library. Project BLIIPS, which stands for "Books and Libraries: Intelligence and Interaction through Puzzle- and Skinnerboxes", deals with interactively, and adaptively, optimizing customer journeys using data. More specifically, the project is positioned in Data Science Alkmaar a joint initiative of the municipality of Alkmaar, regional industry, and the Amsterdam Center for Business Analytics, and in a cooperation with the Stichting Leenrecht which provides funding for a pilot project. In addition, Martijn van Otterlo is member of the Amsterdam consortium AAA on data science. The main idea of the project is to add sensors and artificial intelligence to the physical library such that activities of users can be tracked and used for analytics purposes. Activity-based presentation of books, the use of loan information, and navigation assistance through the library are among the goals of the project. The long-term goals of the project are the creation of a "library lab" for data analytics for the public library, the development of new business models for the public library, and more specifically, a rollout of obtained results to other libraries in the Netherlands.