Amazing Grace and the Library Z Zone!

Grace Bamber (check name)Sleep Pod

I chatted with Eureka! 2014 finalist Grace Bamber this week about her soon to be launched new sleep-pod competition idea. Here is what Grace had to say about her student-inspired nap area and her experience of being part of Eureka! 2014 last year.

“About this time last year, an advertisement popped up on blackboard for the Eureka! Innovation Challenge Event. The first prize of £1000 worth of vouchers was tempting, but above all it was an opportunity to do something worthwhile for students. I was hesitant to enter, but figured “it’s worth a shot”.

I never expected to be shortlisted to the final with my idea to introduce “sleep pods”. Looking around campus, it’s actually quite funny to see the crazy places that people doze off, and we realise that coffee doesn’t always cut it at 3am in the Ali G. Short naps benefit alertness, productivity, wellbeing and learning, yet still my idea was met with a mixed response. People seemed to either love it, or were completely confused. One of the judges even compared my idea to a hotel, and asked if I would be providing “pod service” to deliver refreshments! However, companies like Virgin Active and Google are jumping on the bandwagon, and it just makes sense that in providing a 24 hour learning environment, we cater for the 24 hour needs of students.

Although I didn’t come out in the top three, being a finalist was the highlight of my first year at UoM, and I am delighted that next month we will be introducing a sleep pod to AGLC. Presenting at the contact theatre with Phil Jupitus as a host was the most nervous I’ve ever felt, but knowing that all this is happening because of me makes the pressure worth it.

Keep your eyes posted for more information on the soon to be launched z zone!


Lancaster University Visit – Jolt!


Based on our very own Eureka! Library Innovation Challenge event “Jolt the Library” was a collaboration between Lancaster University’s Library and Innovation Hub. The central idea was to find an innovative idea to improve the student experience at their Library. Lorraine Beard and I were delighted to share our knowledge as project leader and project sponsor of Eureka! and consulted with staff at Lancaster on how to make the afternoon a success. We of course attended the final and were given a warm welcome by the event organisers. If you’d like to know more about the day and see which student idea scooped the top prize of £1000 take a look at Lancaster University Library’s competition page.

BBC Visit – An inspiring afternoon for the Innovation Group


We were lucky enough yesterday to tour the new BBC Media City base. The purpose of the visit was to assess the organisation’s use of new technologies and to spotlight how the BBC’s focus on innovation has transformed the working environment for staff and visitors alike.

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the “Blue Room”. Staff here are keen to demonstrate a range of new consumer technology trends, all with the intention of bringing them to the attention of the BBC’s editorial, technical and management teams. Of special interest was the new Lytro photography software platform, which upgrades the way image-takers are able to edit and compose their shots in both pre and post production. Equally exciting was the revolutionary Actioncam360. This is a camera which allows (via its 360 degree mirror and lens system) filmmakers to easily capture 360 degree video footage.

In addition to the new technology on show there was ample opportunity to explore the extensive variety of meeting rooms and breakout spaces available to BBC staff. These have radically changed the way they are now able to engage with colleagues.

Of course no trip to this new TV base would have been complete without a visit to the BBC Breakfast Studio and we were pleased to be offered a cup of coffee and a chance to make ourselves comfy on the famous red sofa.

Many thanks to all involved in organising the visit and to the BBC themselves for such a warm welcome.

The Future of Oculus Rift, According to the Man who Invented It

(Not Nick – its just a picture of him wearing the head-set)


If anyone knows what’s going to happen to virtual reality it’s Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR and inventor of the Oculus Rift.

Looking way, way into the future Palmer sees a very different kind of Rift to the current set up full of wires and straps. “In the long run these headsets aren’t even going to be plugging into PCs, they’re going to have dedicated chip sets on the headset itself that are able to render a lot of different experiences……….(Read More)

Innovation and Ice-cream: Northern Collaboration Conference 2014

NC NC          CT NC

Ciaran and I presented at the 2014 Northern Collaboration conference last week. The title of the conference was “Engagement & Audiences” and our host was Teesside University, the event was held at their Darlington Campus.

Our presentation focused on Eureka! and the “BookedIn” library game ; two of the key projects powered by the University of Manchester Library’s Innovation Group. Both seek to engage with students and enhance the Library experience in exciting new ways. I detailed how the ‘Eureka! Library Innovation Challenge’ competition encourages students to submit their ideas to improve the Library experience. We showed how ideas were shortlisted and how finalists were asked to pitch their idea to a panel of expert judges in a tense 5 minute presentation. Ice-cream featued heavily too as the audience in 2013 were able to testify in our videos as they enjoyed a scoop or two of the cold stuff whilst watching the event in The Manchester Museum.

It was great to share with other academic libraries how Eureka! has enabled us to promote student driven innovation and also boosted the status of the Library as a driver for positive change across the University as a whole.

Spinning off from Eureka, Ciaran presented on the BookedIn project. In collaboration with the University of Glasgow and software developers Running In The Halls, he discussed how BookedIn is seeking to gamify users’ library activities. Via the project students will gain points for visiting libraries and borrowing books, whilst achieving badges for particular challenges. We shared also how the social element of the game provides a platform for students to rate, review and recommend resources to friends whilst viewing and sharing all these activities.

Our session was the most highly attended for its afternoon slot and the feedback for the session was very positive with lots of twitter activity going on throughout the day.

Other break-out session included “Mobile First: The Library in your pocket” from the University of Salford, “Research cafes at Liverpool John Moores University” and the use of “roving student assistants at Edge Hill University”.

Twitter images of the day:


Innovation and LIBER

We attended the LIBER conference last week, held at the National Library of Latvia in Riga. LIBER is Europe’s largest network of research libraries with over 400 member organisations. The aim of the conference is to enable delegates to build links with one another and form new collaborative groups. It also identifies the most key issues for research libraries and shares information and ideas about how libraries might address them. Jan was also attending the conference as she is one of the Programme Directors on LIBER’s highly successful Emerging Leadership Programme.

Our workshop focussed on some of the projects that have emerged from the Library’s Innovation Group, including Eureka, Text-book Rescue and the popular Wellbeing campaign. Only 30% of abstracts submitted for the conference were accepted as presentations, so we were delighted to be able to share our experiences with libraries from across Europe. We also detailed what we have found makes innovation successful within a library context, as well as demonstrating how innovative ideas can have most impact when linked to existing strategies.

The feedback we received from the presentation was excellent and we were delighted to be informed that the session was the highest attended of those on offer that afternoon. Other hot topics at the conference included open access, crowd sourcing and gamification.

Lorraine Beard and Nick Campbell