Student exhibition challenges traditional library experience

A National Library exhibition by three Victoria University of Wellington design students is using 3D media to challenge the way people interact with the Library’s collections.

Design students
Summer scholars Dylan Hughes-Ward, Ruth Barnard and Ryan Achten.

The students’ exhibition —3D Digital Archive of the Future — shows how visitors might use 3D printers and other interactive media to engage with existing exhibitions and collections at the National Library. 

School of Design Associate Dean of Research Professor Simon Fraser says the exhibition demonstrates new user experiences and provides thought provoking reference points for the National Library.

“The role of libraries and archives is changing,” says Professor Fraser. “Easy access to information via the internet and digital technologies raises questions about their role in the future. But these very technologies also provide exciting opportunities to reinvent and reinvigorate libraries.”

Professor Fraser says 3D printers in particular have the potential to “transform libraries from repositories into creative spaces”.

The exhibition is the result of a research project assigned to three students from the University’s School of Design as part of Victoria’s Summer Research Scholarship programme. 

Summer scholar and Master of Design Innovation student Ryan Achten says the exhibition includes four ways library users can interact with exhibits and archived material. Ryan says the research revealed that interactions combining 3D printing and digital media proved most popular with users.

National Library Manager Public Programmes Peter Rowlands says the exhibition challenges the traditional library experience by allowing people to actively engage with the collections.

“You are no longer a voyeur, you become a curator, an author, a co-creator. For some people, it’s been confounding in the best sense,” he says.

3D Digital Archive of the Future
8.30am-5pm, Monday-Saturday until 28 May
National Library Wellington
cnr of Molesworth and Aitken streets