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Final project report, part 2

November 30, 2012

5.       Lessons Learnt

What are the key points for effective practice – Briefly identify the most important points in the case study/development for other practitioners – these may include risks as well as benefits.

Applications for external funding and partnerships with external, expert organisations are a viable way of upskilling local staff in emerging technologies and areas of practice. Although, there is still significant work required to take proofs-of-concept or prototypes into production as live services.

Mobile and geographic technologies are complex to implement successfully but provide engaging and useful ways of providing access to digital collections. The proliferation of mobile and location-aware services in the wider technology environment coupled with increasing mobile device ownership in the LSE community makes these important areas in which to maintain investment in skills.

The Library should focus more attention on front-end user experience, to ensure that use of digital collections across a range of devices remains at the forefront of technological opportunity and expectation. In the medium-term, the library should consider funding an additional Digital Library post dedicated to this specialism.

 6.       Technical Approach

What are the technologies, standards, frameworks etc that you used in the project? Which techniques and technologies worked particularly well? What have been the technical issues of these technologies? What advice would you give others engaging with these technologies?

 Postgres (with PostGIS extension) – to hold point data about the notebook entries

MapServer – to serve the Booth map at required zoom levels

TileCache/MapProxy – to cache the tiles from MapServer for delivery

Open Layers – to combine: 1) notebook points, 2) the Booth map and 3) a base map of LSE choosing

Issues and challenges

 Extracting content from the legacy (c.2000) application

–          lack of organisational knowledge or adequate documentation

Georeferencing

–          missing data from ‘master’ (stitched) map

–          variable quality results on ‘master’ map

–          second attempt using 13 ‘pre-master’ maps

Base map choice

–          proofs-of-concept with each option

–          default decided through user testing

 pb_mapchoice

Registration (‘georectification’)

–          improved through use of ‘pre-master’ maps

 pb_rectification1pb_rectification2

 Native vs open web vs hybrid

 Started with Open Web application

–          Increased sustainability (open standards, minimal additional skill set)

Investigating Hybrid approach

–          Performance issues running map layers and overlays in mobile browsers

–          Doesn’t seem to be bandwidth problem on 3g(?)

Possibility of a future Native app

–          Best performance?

–          User expectation, profile on app stores

 7.       Conclusions and recommendations

This should include general suggestions and/or recommendations to others who may be exploring similar ideas.

 Impact of mobilisation

    • Students have shown significant engagement and enthusiasm both with the process of designing and testing and application and with using the application in the field
    • The application has enabled innovative teaching and assessment which has been recognised within the institution and provided opportunities for collaboration with academics and departments

Mobile and geo library services

    • The new ways of surfacing content have led to plans for more mobile and geo-retrieval of collections and several follow-on projects are already in planning
    • Open technology enables reuse of the same technical components to rebuild the desktop Booth site, and to think about new ways of presenting search results within LSE Digital Library, both of which are also at the planning stages

Technology skills in libraries are essential

    • Users surveys and analytics showed an increasing cohort of mobile users, and the project found enthusiastic support amongst students. Lending devices helped to ensure that the approach is inclusive and we expect to see even greater uptake of mobile access methods in coming years.
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