Harvard Law Library programs recognized for innovation

Two Harvard Law School Library Programs, Stacklife and Library Cloud, were recognized for their innovation and functionality on campus and in the community.

The Stanford Prize for Innovation in Research Libraries (SPIRL) recognizes innovation that benefits readers and users, and celebrates successful programs in research libraries worldwide. HLS’s Stacklife and Library Cloud programs received SPIRL Commendations of Merit. The James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University was the 2014 winner of the Stanford Prize for Innovation in Research Libraries.

In their commendation, the SPIRL judges said the HLS programs “successfully made a measurable impact on the library’s own clientele as well as the potential for influencing the practices and/or standards of research librarianship generally.”

Other standards judges took into consideration when selecting the winners included: evidence of the effects of the programs on users or staff of the nominated library, nature of the innovation, potential contributions of the program to research and/or service practices in other domains outside of research librarianship, sustainability of the program and potential for replication or adaptation by other research libraries.

LibraryCloud is a server that gathers library metadata from multiple institutions and makes it available through open APIs and as Linked Open Data. The aim is to make everything libraries know available to everyone on the Web, and to enable and encourage the collaborative development of these apps and many more. LibraryCloud is open source software, and data is available to all applications for non-commercial use (within capacity limits).

StackLife is an Internet platform that allows users to digitally browse all of the items in Harvard’s 73 libraries and Book Depository as if they were on a single shelf. A search for a title on the website results in a vertically stacked version of the actual library shelf. Within the application, users are able to judge each book by its cover, based on its size and color. The darker the shade, the more often it has been checked out or put on reserve. The thicker a book is, the more pages it has. A user can click on a title for a menu of subject categorie. The technology is being tested beyond Harvard’s collection. Stacklife also helps users browse parts of the Digital Public Library of America, the national digital resource which got its start at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

David Weinberger and Kim Dulin, co-directors of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, and HLS Professor Jonathan Zittrain, a founder of the Berkman Center, have been involved with both programs since 2010.

Weinberger is a senior researcher at the Berkman Center, and co-director of the Harvard Library Lab. He is the author of “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” and “Everything Is Miscellaneous,” and is the co-author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto.” His most recent book, “Too Big to Know,” is about the Internet’s effect on how and what we know.

Dulin practiced law before becoming the HLS Library’s associate director for collection development and digitization initiatives. She oversees many of the experimental enterprises underway in the collective innovation engine that includes the Berkman Center, HLS and its library.

Zittrain is vice dean for Library and Information Resources. He is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is the author of “The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It.”