“Experience” Jefferson at the Library

Originally posted on Not So Random Thoughts on March 18, 2010:

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting and receiving a personal tour of the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress (LoC). I was overwhelmed by the impeccable detail and amazing beauty everywhere I turned. The Jefferson Building has to be one of the city’s best kept secrets. I cannot believe in all the years that I have lived in the area that yesterday was my first time in the historic treasure.

Several years ago the Library, in partnership with Microsoft and Terremark, created the Library of Congress Experience:

The Library of Congress Experience offers “hands-on” interaction with rare cultural treasures in ways that inspire and engage. Cutting-edge interactive technologies seamlessly integrate with the Library’s on-site exhibitions to provide dynamic access to the magnificent Jefferson Building and to the unmatched collections of the Library of Congress. The experience continues on-line through the companion web site myLOC.gov which contains exhibition content and can be personalized to your interests

The interactive technologies within the Library leveraged touch screen kiosks distributed throughout the Library along with Microsoft’s Silverlight to enhance a visitors experience while visiting the Jefferson Building. This interaction can be tracked and linked to a visitors’s myLoc.gov account (which requires a Windows Live Passport) for continued exploration of the Library long after they have returned home. Not surprisingly, myLoc.gov was developed upon Microsoft’s SharePoint Server platform.

It has been almost two years since the Library of Congress Experience was first introduced and it received the following awards:

  • 2009 Interactive Design Best of Show (HOW Magazine)
  • 2009 Self-Service Kiosk Excellence Best of Show (KioskCom)
  • Bronze Award for Interactive Kiosks (American Associatation of Museums, Media & Technology MUSE)

I couldn’t help myself, though, as I began to wonder how the experience could be enhanced? How could a visitor’s location aware, mobile device be leveraged to enhance the “experience”, for example? As my mind continued to wonder I could easily see a LoC version of Foursquare, points and all, being leveraged in a way that today’s mobile savvy users could enjoy. Maybe some sort of modern day scavenger hunt within the Library leveraging one’s mobile device with embedded GPS? It could also allow visitors from all over the world to collaborate and learn together, in real-time, with complete strangers united only by the fact that they happened to visit the world’s largest Library on the same day, at the same time.

Now wouldn’t that be an “experience”?

I think so!

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Joe Flood

The Jefferson is indeed one of the most beautiful buildings in DC. They also have interesting exhibits to check out and you can see the Reading Room. Another hidden treasure in DC is the National Building Museum. It’s another amazing building that is off the tourist path.