Monthly Archives: February 2007

I had a really good meeting with Iman and Andrew Wilson (from Huddersfield based Blink) on Friday morning to see if we can set up a new project that combines the library with all (or some) of the following: gaming, RFID, serendipity, attracting non-users, improving book findability, and generally having fun.

Blink have done some really funky stuff with RFID at MAGNA near Rotherham and at the local Media Centre, and Iman did a cool project that combined the OPAC with social networking.

One of the ideas which was briefly kicked around the table has really grown on me over the weekend –turning use of the library and the library services into a game. In a similar way to many MMORPGs, you would earn (or even lose) points as you interacted with the library.

For example, any of the following might gain you points…

1] bringing a book back on time
2] bonus points for returning a book that fulfils a hold request
3] borrowing a book
4] bonus points for borrowing a book that’s previously had low circulation or not been borrowed recently
5] bonus points for borrowing a book that’s outside of your normal borrowing subject areas
6] using the automated systems for renewing books (e.g. OPAC or telephone renewal system)
7] using the other services provided by the library (e.g. electronic resources)
8] visiting the library

…and the following might lose you points…

1] bringing a book back late
2] not paying fines promptly
3] breaching the library policy on acceptable behaviour

The more I thought about it, the more it started to dove-tail with store loyalty/reward cards — we often penalise “bad” library behaviour (e.g. through fines) but rarely reward “good” behaviour. I always feel sorry for students who have never been fined before and then genuinely forget to bring some books back — maybe they could “cash in” some of their well earned points to offset a fine?

Perhaps points could also be converted into printing credits, or exchanged for low cost materials (e.g. ring binders, USB memory sticks, binding materials)?

Hmmm… I wonder how students would react to seeing something like this in their account page in the OPAC?

“You currently have a library score of 5,182 points and are ranked #176 out of all Applied Sciences students. You have gained 287 points in the last 7 days.”

Those who know us well will know that we get a lot of wildlife around (and sometimes inside) our house, some of which appears in this Flickr set.

In recent months, a pair of tawny owls (Wikipedia/RSPB) have taken to hunting in a patch of woodland opposite our house. In fact, one of their favourite perches is to sit on top of the telegraph pole opposite our bedroom window. Occasionally they’ll start calling out to one another (RSPB audio) — they’re so close that you can hear them in every room of the house and it’s slightly eerie when you’re trying to fall asleep.

My attempts to grab some photographs of the owls this evening wasn’t a great success — the autofocus on my digital camera steadfastly refused to lock onto the owl in the low level lighting conditions, although (frustratingly) it would slip in and out of sharp focus as it tried.

So, here are possibly the worst photographs ever taken of an owl!!! :-D

owl_002 owl_004 owl_003 owl_001

Whilst browsing through images tagged with “hitchcock” on Flickr, I came across this image by Paul Szynol:

My initial reaction was “that’s a cool scale model” and then I started reading the comments… my mind boggled when I realised it wasn’t a model, but a real photograph that’s undergone a process called “tilt-shift” (which is something I’d never heard of before).

According to Wikipedia:

Tilt-Shift Miniature Faking is a process in which a photograph of a real location or object is manipulated so that it looks like a photograph of a scale-model miniature. By distorting the focus of the photo, the artist fools the eye into believing that the distances in the photograph are much smaller than they really are.

A search on Flickr brings up hundreds of other tilt-shifted images, and I couldn’t resist having a go myself (a quick Google search show you how):

(the original image is here)

Here’s a few more…

By the way, if anyone would like an image “bookifying” then feel free to email it to me: email[at]

Stephen Abram (

(largest version – 3,420 book covers)

Sarah Houghton-Jan (

(largest version – 4,680 book covers)

Casey Bisson (

(largest version – 2,700 book covers)

Meredith Farkas (

(largest version – 3,000 book covers)

John Blyberg (

(largest version – 4,080 book covers)

Jessamyn West (

(largest version – 2,040 book covers)

(largest version – 3,480 book covers)

Michael Casey (

(largest version – 2,940 book covers)

note: the largest versions are hosted on my home PC, so you’ll probably have time to make a cup of coffee, run a bath, and rearrange your entire library stock by the colour of the spines before they finish downloading :-D

…or should it be “books as librarians”?

Anyway, some more playing around with book covers and average colours…

Michael Stephens (

(largest version – 3,720 book covers)

Stephen Abram (

(largest version – 2,460 book covers)

(largest version – 2,040 book covers)

Kathryn Greenhill (

(largest version – 3,600 book covers)

Hopefully the people who took the original photographs don’t mind me using the images, and the librarians concerned don’t mind being “bookified” :-)

I should also point out that the book covers are pretty much chosen at random as being the closest colour matches, so you shouldn’t read anything into the titles that were used!

As reported at the Gordian Knot, Pat Sommers (CEO, SirsiDynix) has resigned.

I don’t think we were expecting Pat to come to the joint EUUG & Dynix User Group Conference in Barcelona, but it will be interesting to see if anyone from Vista attends.

The conference programme is shaping up nicely, so I’m looking forward to seeing new sights and old friends, as well as making new friends. Just in case anyone is undecided about attending, here’s what the view should be like from your hotel bedroom window…

(Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia)

p.s. if you are planning to attend, please let me know if you’d like adding to the Google Map for the event!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.