Library of the Future

This enormous, eighteen-screen, six-panel installation is part of Hillman Library’s vision for the Library of the Future. Counterbalancing the smaller role of physical books and collections in libraries today, this touch wall allows visitors to explore selected items in the Library’s Distinctive Collections department. The curated collections presented on the wall allow visitors to see stunning highlights from various collections, and to learn through the narratives carefully and lovingly put together by the Library’s staff. The collections include a variety of items, including books, videos, audio pieces, maps, and even 3D objects that can be studied from all sides. The full piece—20 feet wide and nearly 6 feet tall—allows six people to choose and explore the collections independently. Each panel also has its own sound, which is isolated from the rest of the panels using directional speakers.

Client: Hillman Library, University of Pittsburgh
Project website
Role: Technical lead
Selected technologies: C++, Cinder, OpenGL

Playing a dance video on the wall
The large-scale presentation allows visitors to explore items from the library’s Distinctive Collections before seeking out the physical objects themselves. The Library staff’s carefully crafted narratives allow visitors an opportunity to dig into the history and scholarship surrounding the items.
Multiple people using the wall
The wall, 20 feet by nearly 6 feet, allows multiple people to explore the collections at once. Each panel has its own, isolated audio so that one visitor’s experience doesn’t interfere with another’s.
Listening to sound on the wall
Because multiple types of media and items can be displayed, visitors’ experience of the collections can be enhanced with visual and audio layers. Here, a visitor inspects and listens to an ancient Japanese instrument.
3D images
The wall also allows the library’s staff to highlight 3D objects, such as this Japanese woodblock.
Ambient background
When not in use, the wall provides a beautiful, animated backdrop that highlights the visually striking items available in the Library’s Distinctive Collections.
Library of the Future