Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Kevin's "The Geek Terminal" tour: A sneak peak into a library of the future?

Thanks to Kevin, for posting this video that gives us a peak into Geek Terminal (GT), which is kind of like a" cafe + lounge + bar + business centre + broadcast centre + technogear playhouse" all rolled into one. Nice work on the video, Kevin. Loved your intro.

Viewing the video, I couldn't help but wonder if future library spaces might turn out to be something like that.

01:20 mins - "You get to have free power," says GT CEO, Chris. But that's not what's cool. Check out the power-track sockets (Brand name 'Eubiq') that gives new meaning to "plug and play". Produced by a Singapore-based company. More reviews about the power-track socket: here, here, here and here.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - Eubiq power socket

03:10 mins - A bar that serves wine and coffee. While it's not surprising to find coffee joints in libraries nowadays, I've not heard of wine bars... yet. "Books and wine". And the librarian could double-up as the bartender serving up coffee, tea, wine and information! Wine-not? *ouch*
screenshot: Geek Terminal - Bar

03:35 mins - Custom-made stain-proof chairs. According to the GT CEO, "wine, coffee... nothing can stain this chair". If the chairs offer permanent protection against ink (pen, markers etc) from bored teens, then library will get a few thousands of those, thank you.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - custom stain-proof chairs

03:45 mins - Well thought-out design for the table. When the food arrives, there's a slot in the table for you to put your laptop away.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - laptop tuck-away

05:50 mins - I took this shot to show that such a scene (of people crowding around computers for discussions) is already happening in some public libraries, especially those with free WIFI. Perhaps to handle the increase in noise levels, the Library of the Future could have Noise Dampeners -- devices installed just above the individual discussion area that cancels out the noise made from a specific location.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - Food & discussion space

07:40 mins - Here's a shot of a Ping.sg meetup participant moving his avatar in Second Life. In the Library of the Future, interactions in virtual worlds might become part of the library's regular activities, in addition to the "traditional" face-to-face interactions. E.g. book discussions in virtual worlds, with international participants.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - Second Life users

09:00 mins - Chris points out the collapsible wall panels. The Library of the Future would have spaces that are configurable and customisable -- without requiring specialist skills to set them up.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - Collapsable Wall Panels

10:00 & 11:35, 12:20 mins - This part's Geek-talk Galore, on servers, load balancers, bandwidth, Industrial routers... "N-series, which is cool," says Chris. Kevin responds, "You mean A-O2-11-N?" Heh.

In the Library of the Future, library professionals won't be expected to go gah-gah over Geek-speak, but I think at the basic level we must be able to hold our own where end-user level of computer is concerned (maybe by then, we'd understand what they are talking about).
screenshot: Geek Terminal - Gadget talk

13:00 mins - The bar pulsates with LED lights installed underneath. OK, a little SciFi indulgence here -- maybe the Library of the Future's "Information Bar" has some built in intelligence.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - LED light bar1
As the librarian conducts the reference interview with the customer, the bar would glow according to the customer's satisfaction level. The warmer colours, the closer the search is to the customer's expectations. The cooler the colours, the more the librarian has to try alternative search strategies.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - LED light bar2
Instead of computer screens and keyboards, the bar counter top acts as the display and input device. I'm sure this aspect is already feasible with today's technology.
screenshot: Geek Terminal - LED light bar3

Would books have a place in the Library of the Future? Yes they will have a place, in my version of the future library.

Customers would search the library catalogue via WIFI, and place their "order" for the physical book they'd like to read. The books would be automatically retrieved from compact storage areas (hidden away but still within the library premise) and delivered to the customer at their table.

If it's not delivered directly to the table, at the very least the customer would receive an alert (via SMS or IM) that their items have been delivered to the collection point (e.g. the cafe/ book bar).

The Library of the Future would be a place where there's a harmony between space, aesthetics, and use. If libraries can excite all its users, like what Geek Terminal elicits from those folks, then the library's future is assured. : )

View Kevin's video at this page.


  1. Holy crap, if your imaginary library ever existed, I'll bring my sleeping bag over in an instant. I already love our libraries, but these ideas would make it totally irresistible!

  2. Kevin, I guess the Library of the Future should have rooms for people to bunk in as well, eh? :)

  3. Kevin responds, "You mean A-O2-11-N?" Heh.

    Actually, I'm pretty sure he meant 802.11n.

  4. Aiyee! Can there be a Future Library w/o IT overshadowing everything else?

  5. But like that then the future library no fun already leh. The most interesting thing about visiting a library is to walk down the endless shelf and look for books.

    The ability to touch and feel the book cannot be replaced by technology.

  6. Hi DK, I didn't say all libraries would look like what I've described :)

    To Damien: I think for generations like ours, who grew up 'Analog' before knowing digital, it seems like IT is "overshadowing" things. But I suspect to users who grew up 'Digital', the digital stuff is really in the background. Nothing worth paying attention to.

  7. People should not be a footnote to technology. And likewise, books and libraries too. :)


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