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Early 2013 we started to develop a concept for telling stories in The Eemhuis. The Eemhuis is the new housing for the School of the Arts, the Eemland Library, Eemland City Archive and Kunsthal KAdE.

In this new location the library really wanted to present and give back great stories to the city of Amersfoort. This beautiful new building consists of seven terraces. A multitouch table would be placed on the upper terrace, overlooking the library.

Together with Karin Horst, who works at the Eemland library and has close contact with local writers, we have come up with a concept for an application for the multitouch table. Karin Horst is confident that the concept can be further developed, as many of the local writers she works with are willing to provide their stories to her. This is how it works according to Karin:

“The local writers and I, we help each other out by returning favours. For instance, the library of Eemland had planned a day with a culinary theme in the opening week, and I offered some writers an opportunity to promote their books for which they offered me a lecture and/or some snacks in return. Fortunately for the library, there are writers on all sorts of subjects!”


The Eemland library opted for the multitouch table as a medium for storytelling because the multitouch technique is interactive and it gives users the opportunity to attribute their own stories. For example, stories like ‘Ander Licht’ by Rosita Steenbeek and ‘Meneer Sadek en de anderen’ by Kaweh Modiri are now available to the public.

“In order to emphasize the connection between stories and new media we chose multitouch as the underlying technology. This platform enables new sorts of interactions and makes it easy to add extra content to the stories when needed. We are looking into the possibility to make the application even more interactive in the future by designing a user friendly comment function.”

Fortunately, the multitouch technology is ideal for storytelling. However, the diversity of the stories made it more complicated to develop a cohesive form of presentation. Together with the library of Eemland we decided it would be best to create a new platform for the stories, as it were, where the stories could then be stored, told and shared. In the process, Doklab developed a CMS in which the library could easily create multi-media stories. By using this particular CMS, administrators, editors and/or volunteers can all contribute to the multitouch table’s archive. They can add pictures, texts and video’s, or even maps, quizzes or polls. The opportunities are endless, as the CMS provides structure for the different elements of the stories on the table. The library and Doklab benefit from CMS because stories can be added without interference from us.

Verhaal Rosita Steenbeek

Another aspect of the CMS is a direct link to digital image collection of the Eemland Archive. If and when users of the multitouch table want to add images from the City Archive to stories, the users no longer need to download or order the images. Instead, users can search for high resolution images and import them from the City Archive. The multitouch table provides the users with an automatic report on the relation of the image to the Archive and the image’s order number, so that other users can track the image down and order it themselves.

“Stacking the multitouch table with files has become even easier with the the valuable link to the City Archive. I do miss the possibility of linking to the internet and to websites sometimes, even though I realise that the internet can be very distracting and it can send people off track really fast.”

Since a couple of weeks, the application is available to the public in the Eemhuis library. The multitouch table now contains four stories but Karin expects that more stories, like a culinary story by Ilja Gort (Amersfoort Writer) perhaps, will be added in the near future. Additionally, in order to shed more light on the region of Amersfoort, it would be great if some stories were added that took place in Bunschoten/Spakenburg, Baarn, Leusen and Woudenberg.

In the future, Doklab will make an application available with similar possibilities for other libraries and organisations. If you’d wish to know more about this contact us.

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Two years ago Gerard Bierens of the Radboud University came to us and asked us to think about the use of multitouch technology to make library services more accessible. The library already had a multitouch table in use, but according to Gerard it was clear that there were more possibilities with these interactive screens than were used up to that moment.

Concept Development

Together with a team with members from different departments of the Radboud University we set out to develop a number of concepts. Based of previous studies we came up with two concepts, one that focused on collaboration between students, and one that focused on the existing online services such as the ‘repository’ , in which publications of scientists are recognized, RUQuest and Ask Your Librarian (digital information desk).

For example, one of the sketches consisted of a touch-wall, on which students could visualize their own projects and research.


Ultimately, the final concept has become a blend of the two ideas. We chose for a huge vertical touch screen that not only displayed the repository, but all kinds of online services. Because we attached a lot of data to locations (such as a faculty or workingstation /studyroom ) we chose for an interactive map as the basis for the visualization of functions and services.
I asked Gerard why he chose this form of visualization;

“Based on past experience we knew quite well what was not going to work (navigation by using virtual keyboards). The research carried out together with DOKLAB (user observations, interviews, KPI reports) showed clearly that there is a great need for factual and current information. Think of opening hours, the number of free PC workstations at a location, news and events. In a brainstorm session the idea soon came up to present such information on an interactive 3D map of the Radboud University campus. “

“Much thought has been given to the underlying architecture. Links to all kinds of data streams in the background ensures a constant flow of new content. Presenting this content in a visually appealing display of the RU Campus will encourage the use of the multitouch screen. After all out of sheer curiosity, the students want to see what the screen has to say about the faculty.”

Interface van de applicatie

Informatie connected to the buildings appears when you touch one of the buildings

Although lot of information is already available online we have chosen to present it on a physical display, instead of, for example, in the form of a mobile application. Gerard says:

“The screen is a real eye-catcher in the entrance hall of the library, this way the function is specifically different from a mobile application. Indeed there has been a nice sort of cross-over between the two. In November 2014 we will launch our new (also mobile) website (, which will partly make use of the same data layer as is used by the multitouch screen.”

Visualisation of online services

We think that in many organizations it is useful to think about making online services physically available in the building. Some online services are very useful, but not known well enough to be found. By putting these services literally in a virtual showcase in a place on campus where many students come every day, we increase the likelihood that, often for the first time, they come into contact with the available sources and services.

For the Radboud University the physical space is still very important:

“The services of the University Library are offered more and more often in digital form. However, the physical space remains an important factor, the daily occupancy by students is very high, students value the library highly as a study and working environment.”

Location of the screen

To test the application properly, we have installed the 84″ touch-wall first in Delft to run tests for several weeks. Optimizing a 84″ touchscreen with a 4K resolution called for some ingenious solutions.


Moving the installation to the hall of the Radboud Library eventually turned out to be quite a challenge. Although the screen could be moved in the truck in one piece, in the end it still had to go through the door in Nijmegen. By removing the wheels under the frame, the required 11 inches were taken off to make it possible to move screen on a carpet through the doorway.

How does this all work technically?

For the development of the map, we deviated from our standard development environment. DOKLAB develops many applications in .NET and we use WPF to build the front-ends. For this application we wanted to make use of a 3D environment, so we decided to use Unity3D. Unity proved to be extremely flexible in use in the creation of this environment. By using a custom-touch library we were able to add multitouch support and by using NoesisGUI we could still work with XAML to create the interface. This combination gave us a lot of flexibility during development. We made the data available on a separate server so we can easily add extensions to the screen ourselves without having to run an update of the 3D application.

Unity Editor

The collaboration with Radboud developers and the way the project initiated the bringing together of data in one central layer made being part of this project a remarkable experience.

According to Gerard, the possibilities of a the interactive map are huge:

“Already several ideas are coming up within the organization, such as expansion of the campus map with a floor map of the central library and inviting students to join in an API programming contest. There are plenty of possibilities, to be continued!

As for the multitouch technology, it is predictable that the opportunities will only increase at amazing speed. The challenge for us as a library is to make optimal use of these opportunities. ”

We will soon open the API to students, under supervision they will be able to add data sources to the screen themselves. After the approval of the supervisor they will automatically appear on the screen. This way the content on the screen remains interesting and unique, which ensures that students will continue to use the application.

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For over a year we at Doklab do Extreme Library Makeovers as part of our consultancy products. The idea for the Extreme Library Makeover (ELM) was born out of the many questions we received on the implementation of innovation and innovative thinking in library organizations. One of the recurring questions is where to start and what the priorities are. Another question is whether successful projects in libraries all over the world can serve as examples. Libraries generally work with limited budgets and can hardly afford to make wrong decisions. The Extreme Library Makeover provides the right tools to make the right choices and to ignite the enthusiasm among the staff members for innovative thinking.

“I strongly believe in talent. Talent management must be a mark on the agenda”

Miranda van der Meer – Bibliotheek aan den IJssel

Between 2007 and 2014 we, Jaap van de Geer and me, have traveled around the world visiting libraries and doing research into how libraries are dealing with the challenges that come with this time of digitization. During the tours and the presentations at conferences around the world and as a spin off of the international talk show about libraries, This Week in Libraries, Doklab has built a unique network. With the ELM Doklab brings all this experience and expertise to the libraries and shares it with a team of staff members. In order to keep a strong focus on the matters that need attention we deliberately have chosen for an intensive ‘Pressure Cooker’ model for the ELM of 3 days to get the best results.

Within these three days we do group sessions / presentations, a number of personal interviews with staff members and interviews with customers and with people on the streets.

The interviews and impressions are just as during our travels all captured on video. After three intense days we take all the impressions back to Doklab to process them and possibly share them, where necessary, with other specialists working with us such as programmers and industrial designers or people within the network. The information is eventually processed into a digital report for the iPad.

Een van de gegenereerde en gevisualiseerde oplossingen.

Een van de gegenereerde en gevisualiseerde oplossingen.

This report contains conclusions, recommendations and ideas with steps to implement them as well as relevant photographs, videos and graphics. An important advantage of this type of reporting is that it is fun and easy to share information and especially the video clips with others. The ELM report will not disappear as quickly in a drawer or on a pile on a desk as a regular paper report.

“ At this moment we are very much focusing on designing the interior of the building and little attention is paid to what is happening outside our walls”.

Marc Rodenburg – Centre Céramique – Maastricht

Marc Rodenburg

Marc Rodenburg and Erik Boeksteijn discover the gems in the collection of Centre Céramique

In the past year we have done Extreme Library Makeovers at Bibliotheek Kennemerwaard, Bibliotheek Zuid-Kennemerland, Centre Ceramique ( Maastricht), Bibliotheek aan den IJssel and Bibliotheek Breda. We set up a special Google+ ELM community so that after the ELM we keep in touch with the staff members of the different libraries and everyone can share their knowledge and experiences. Bibliotheek Zuid-Kennemerland re-opened June 21st 2014, after a very successful Makeover.
Recurring ELM themes are the visibility of the functions and services of the library and how to work the digital component, but also how to create an innovative culture and way of thinking in times of limited financial resources.

It is always a challenge to help resolve these “BIG” questions of libraries within a limited timeframe, but the energy, the fun and creativity that comes from the staff members make these projects a success and an unforgettable experience.

 “ It is my feeling that the library is too much like a museum. There is nothing going on”.

Anne Sollie – Bibliotheek Zuid Kennemerland – Bloemendaal