Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 77–95 | Cite as

Learning beyond books—strategies for ambient media to improve libraries and collaboration spaces as interfaces for social learning

  • Mark BilandzicEmail author
  • Marcus Foth


With the advent of digital media and online information resources, public libraries as physical destinations for information access are being increasingly challenged. As a response, many libraries follow the trend of removing bookshelves in order to provide more floorspace for social interaction and collaboration. Such spaces follow a Commons 2.0 model: they are designed to support collaborative work and social learning. The acquisition of skills and knowledge is facilitated as a result of being surrounded by and interacting with a community of likeminded others. Based on the results of a case study on a Commons 2.0 library space, this paper describes several issues of collaboration and social learning in public library settings. Acknowledging the significance of the architectural characteristics of the physical space, we discuss opportunities for ambient media to better reflect the social attributes of the library as a place; i.e. amplify the sense of other co-present library visitors and provide opportunities for shared encounters and conversations, which would remain invisible otherwise. We present the design of a user check-in system for improving the library as a physical destination for social learning, sharing, and inspiration for and by the community.


Commons 2.0 Library design e-Library Bookless library Coworking Collaboration Social learning Co-presence Shared encounters Serendipity Urban informatics Ambient media Embodied interaction Locative media 



The authors would like to thank Ronald Schroeter, Daniel Johnson, and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper. Further thanks goes to Mark Graham Jones for his help with the conceptualisation and early prototyping of the check-in system.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Design, Urban Informatics Research LabQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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