Explore a new book discovery experience in the public library

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Abstract

Nowadays, a public library is no longer a place just for the collection of books. It has offered multiple functions to take the responsibility of being a public cultural institution for all citizens. However, in the Netherlands, libraries are losing their members, especially young adults. With the development of technology, a public library is no longer the only choice for books. Libraries are encountering a challenge to attract young people back. They need to strive for providing new kinds of public services to attract this potential new audience.

Westfriese Bibliotheken is one of these libraries which has 10 decentralized community libraries in 6 places in the north of the Netherlands. Westfriese Bibliotheken is facing a challenge to reach a bigger group of the generation of youngsters who think a public library is a dull place to go. To narrow down the scope, the book discovery experience for young adults between 18-25 years old was focused. Augmented reality as the technology this project worked with has been proved to benefit the library context.

Hence, the objective of this thesis is to explore a new book discovery experience for young adults in the public library in Stede Broec.

From the theoretical study (chapter 2) about the book discovery behavior, the behavior pattern was investigated and worked as the design requirements. User research (chapter 3) was conducted to understand the current book discovery experience in the context through contextmapping. It discovered users' concerns and expectations about the book discovery experience. Moreover, the opportunity of this project: designing a new book discovery experience to facilitate serendipity was concluded based on user research findings. Under the framework of the serendipity theory (chapter 4), design opportunities for facilitating serendipity in the current library were gathered. The study on augmented reality (chapter 5) helped to define design qualities and technologies that this project can make use of.

With the research insights, a design goal with three design qualities (fascinating, playful, and inviting) and relevant design requirements were formulated (chapter 6). They contributed as a guideline to the design solution.

Ideas were gathered through a creative session and based on these ideas three initial concepts were generated. Concepts were evaluated and iterated with users, clients, and fellow students. The final design outcome is a phone-based AR application with two main parts: exploring and browsing parts. It offers both basic and additional information about books to stimulate users to experience serendipity in the public library.

Finally, an evaluation test was conducted to validate if the final design can fulfill the design goal. The final design achieves a good usability and desirability performance evaluated by 6 participants in the library. The evaluation test demonstrated that the additional information about books and interaction between the physical and digital world can let users feel fascinated, invited, and playful during the book discovery experience.