Last update: October 4, 2016

Academic Year 2016

Technology Checkout Tablet App: ELF 2.0

An image of loanable technology in the library with a screenshot of the new app.

Students previously signed a paper copy of a technology loan agreement form when checking out technology. We developed a tablet/touchscreen app (ELF 2.0) that allows students to sign for their items on the touch screen, and receive their loanable technology agreement form through email. Renewals and returns of technology checkout items is now paperless.

Interface development for Library Help Desk Ticketing System

An image of the new ticketing system interface.

Our JavaScript team completed several requested features for the Library IT Help Desk system that include scope and impact drop downs to the customer view. We implemented several layout revisions. Further, the system had not previously supported sending carbon copy emails from the customer view, this is now implemented in this interface.

Account-Based Recommendations

An image representing Account-Based Recommendations

With funding from a University of Illinois Campus Research Board grant, we are working on the development of an account based recommender. The team is making an Android VuFind account based recommender as well as a front-end for the library homepage and library websites to include recommendations after users login to their library VuFind account.

Location-Based Recommendations

An image of the location based recommendation beacons
A team of CS students (as a part of their Senior Projects course) are developing Location Based Recommendations using Bluetooth Beacons in the Lower Level of the Undergraduate Library. The location is inferred using a system of Estimote beacons.

Library Directory Kiosk Redesign

An image of the Library Directory Kiosk
Our JavaScript team redeveloped a directory search so that users can type in a call number at a tablet kiosk and map the location of their item in Undergrad Library. The directory also shows users where other services in Media Commons and UGL are located.

IWonder Feature Requests

An image of the chat interface

We are working on several requested features for the Library "Ask A Librarian" service -- new features in development include auto-logout for operators, several widget enhancements, and shibboleth based login for operators.

Academic Year 2015

Library Homepage Enhancements

An image of library homepage with VuFind login functionality.

The group is developing a VuFind account feature for single page login and item renewal, account status, and request monitoring without leaving the Library homepage; there are additional Room Reserve API enhancements, and Room Reserve layout revisions in progress to further streamline booking study rooms in the library.

IWonder Feature Requests

An image of the hoot icon

A team is working on several requested features for the Library "Ask A Librarian" service -- new features in development include auto-logout for operators, several interface enhancements, and bug fixes for better syncing of the operator view and chat server.

New Titles Re-engineering

An image of the topic space icon

A collaboration with Jon Gorman in Library IT to add newly cataloged e-books to the Library New Titles feed and develop a RESTFul webservice and dashboard tool for visualizing collections based on Fund Code/subject area/library units.

Hoot Feature Requests

An image of the topic space icon

The SMS Reserve waiting list tool is getting several enhancements this year including automated wait list expiration, search by call number, global title watches for items with multiple copies.

Hive Investigations

An image of the topic space icon

An idea the prototyping sevice inherited from Kirk Hess, continued by G.A. Sarah Nagle to crowdsource enhanced categorizations of digitized content ( Several experimental APIs and documentation of the Spring 2015 work for an Illinois specific version are available here (from UIUC connection only).

Two Internal Grants: Innovation Fund

An image of bibframe HTML search result

One group of students investigated using the Freebase API for International Student Search Query Support. A functioning prototype for query formulation is available for testing. Another team has investigated BIBFRAME transformation for enhanced discovery.

Student Assistant Hours Tracker

An image of a clock with barcode

A mobile app that lets students check in and out of their library work shift and keeps track of hours worked for the pay period -- also sends reminders to file time-sheets online every two weeks with the students' totals.

Technology Loan Checkout Web Form

An image of loanable gaming devices and a computer form

Designed to replace the current Word documents for checking out technology in the Library. A simple two scan process will allow desk staff to input user information and item information without selecting a Word document for the item, all data is dynamically pulled into the form.

Academic Year 2014

Library Website Redesign

An image of library homepage

Completed enhancement work in the new Library Homepage. Prototyping students debugged server side APIs that include Hours and Locations of Unit Libraries, and a Room Reserve API. Staff contributed to the rapid interface studies and graphic design elements needed to move project to completion. Gateway went live October 2014.

Hoot Pilot

An image of the hoot icon

A pilot rollout of the Hoot course reserves wait list notification service began Fall 2014. The system allows desk staff to place a watch on an item so that the student can be notified by email or text message when the item is returned. Staff from the Undergrad Library and Main Stacks are continuing the pilot in the Spring 2015 semester, providing bug reports and participating in focus groups on the service.

Web Based Wayfinder + Topic Space recommendations

An image of the topic space icon

Student developers completed work on the Web Based Wayfinder, incorporating location-based suggestions from Topic Spaces. Technologies used include Backbone.js, and a new Topic Spaces API. This work is slated to be deployed in kiosks throughout the Library. Recent enhancements include suggestions for content among department Libraries.

Wayfinding Modules: Main Stacks

Over 5 million volumes added to the Library GPS service. In 2014 we completed maps for the Main Stacks wayfinding database with support from ILL/DD and the Bookstacks office.

I-Wonder Chat Service

In conjunction with work coming out of the Student/Library Collaborative grant, launched and stabilized the virtual library chat service.

Rooms API

Extending the Minrva Web Services we created prototype middleware, and a revised API of D!BS room reservation data. With this API we are able to power dynamic room reservation applications that are either Native Mobile apps or browser based Backbone.js apps.

Completed iOS Modules

Minrva 2.0 for iOS was launched in conjunction with work coming out of the Student/Library Collaborative grant

Topic Spaces for Android Launched

The Topic Spaces module is an optical character recognition (OCR) app that allows a student to take a picture of a call number in the stacks. The app suggests book stack collection locations in the Library that are related but not shelved nearby. The service can also show the student books that are normally shelved here but that are currently checked out.

Backbone.js Wayfinder

Student developers began coding a web based version of the Library GPS service so that the maps would be available from a web browser.

Academic Year 2013

Wayfinding Modules

Additional units added to the Library GPS service. In 2013 we developed maps for Music and Performing Arts Library and began work on a Main Stacks wayfinding database.

I-Wonder Chat Service

In conjunction with work coming out of the Student/Library Collaborative grant, the prototyping service helped develop additional front end chat functionality after gathering user feedback in June 2013. Prototype was transitioned to a production library service February 2014.

Data Visualization

Relying on aggregate circulation data from the CARLI reports server and JQuery visualization libraries we were able to prototype a Trending at the Library page that shows users circulation trends like monthly and yearly circulations, popular titles, and collection distribution by item.

Mobile Room Reservation

Extending the Minrva Web Services we created prototype middleware, an API, and mobile presentation of room reservation in the Undergrad Library.

iOS Location Modules

Student programmers are learning iOS while also helping transition prototypes to the iOS environment. This will allow the wayfinding module to work on iPads and iPhones.

Near Semantic Search

Near Semantic Search allows deeper subject exploration beyond traditional catalog search. Developed and tested in conjuntion with Data Mining researchers in the CS department. Near-semantic search interface is in public beta implementation (restricted to UIUC IPs).

Snapshot Module

The snapshot module is an optical character recognition app that allows a student to take a picture (a snapshot) of an assignment sheet and suggests keywords and book titles that may be useful in completing assignments that use library resources.


In collaboration with partners in CSL we are helping to teach Baxter to read and sort call numbers. This reuses the mobile OCR technology from Snapshot, and call number parsing from the wayfinder module.

Future Projects

To suggest a project for our team, or to vote on proposed projects, please visit our public Trello board. You can login using your existing Trello account, or make a new account for free. You can also contact us directly using the contact info at the bottom of this page.