January 26, 2022

Massachusetts: Somerville Public Library Partners With Harvard Library Lab, Becomes First Public Library to Make “Awesome Box” Available

From a Somerville Public Library Announcement:

The Awesome Box at the Somerville Public Library

The Somerville Public Library, in a partnership with the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, launched the “Awesome Box” project at all three SPL branches in early February. This endeavor will allow patrons to give fellow users suggestions on what book/CD/DVD they found to be “awesome.”

“Somerville is the first public library to get on board with the ‘Awesome Box’ project,” says Maria Carpenter, Somerville’s library director. “We are always looking for dynamic, innovative and creative approaches to library service, and this was certainly one of those.”

Here’s how it will work: When a patron particularly enjoys an item, he or she will return the book into the “Awesome Box,” which will be clearly labeled with appropriate signage. Then, a library staff member will scan the book twice – once, checking the book in as usual, then another time to list that item on the “awesome” page.

What’s materials are currently listed as awesome at the Somerville Public Library? Click here to visit the SPL Awesome Page

Here are Awesome Items from the Harvard Library

Learn More About the Awesome Box Project

The Harvard Library Lab Launched the Awesome Box Pilot Nine Months Ago

In a blog post about they talk about signage.

Getting the signage right is key to the first goal. It’s been a challenge to perfect the balance between simple and informative.

We want users to understand the following without using too much text.

  • What constitutes Awesome (helpful, mind-blowing, etc.)
  • What happens when an item is Awesomed (it gets marked Awesome, shared with everyone)

The members of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab responsible for the Awesome Box project are:

  • Annie Cain, Web Developer, Harvard Law Library
  • Matt Phillips, Web Developer, Harvard Law Library
About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.