Bookmark optimizes the university library system with E-Ink technology, making it easy for students to locate books.

  Suzzallo Library, University of Washington

Suzzallo Library, University of Washington


With the cost of E-Ink at an all-time low, develop an innovative use of this display technology.

As new graduate students, my team took inspiration from our surroundings. The university library is an emblem of knowledge, but its antiquated system is set up in a way that is confusing for students to navigate. We desired a more approachable way to locate books.

Context: MHCI+D Immersion Studio

Timeline: 1-week sprint

Team: Duminda Aluthgamage, Will Oberleitner

Key Contributions: Research, User testing, Video Prototype, Writing & Editing



How might we design a more efficient way for students to locate books at university libraries?


The solution


Component One—UI


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Step 1 – Select Book

Search for your book and click on it to see book details. If available for check out, select 'Locate' to the right.

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Step 3 – Locate

Preview a map with the location of your book. Details such as library, floor, section, and shelf number are shown. Select 'Confirm' to mark your book.

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Step 2 – Bookmark Intro

Learn how Bookmark works. The location of your book is displayed at the bottom. Select 'Next' to proceed. 

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Step 4 – Timer

Bookmark has "marked" your book and will hold it for 15 minutes. The system will sync with the E-Sign and the E-Shelf Strip to highlight your book on the designated shelf.


Component Two—E-Sign



E-Signs are placed on side panels of bookshelves for easy visibility when passing through aisles. The signs display information for books marked on that specific shelf. 


Genres of books on a particular shelf are highlighted at the top of E-Signs. Marked books are emphasized with arrows, book title, and student initials.


Component Three—E-Shelf Strip


One User

A single book is marked on the shelf.


Multiple Users

Various books are requested by multiple users. Because the markers are quite large, we came up with a rotation system so that all markers are highlighted at some point, if there is the rare occasion that adjacent books are checked out at the same time.




Benefits of Using Bookmark



  • Less time searching for books

  • Personalized library experience

  • Greater use of library resources could lead to more frequent library visits


  • No more lost time helping students find books

  • Less time spent finding lost books

  • Easy relocation of books across the library



Potential Concepts Explored

Illustrations by Will Oberleitner




01. MaREADer's Map

Students pick up a tablet map from a kiosk and scan their student ID card. The map presents the library layout through floor plans, images, and icons. Represented as a moving dot, students are led to their destination(s), focal points like the bathroom and emergency exit signs, and other personalized areas of interest.


02. Surface Level

Use your mobile device or student card to activate flashing personalized e-tiles which will lead you to your destination. E-tiling can also be placed on walls, bookshelf panels, or anyplace else visible to visitors.



03. E-Labels

E-Ink labels are placed on book spines and bookshelf strips to help the visitor visually see the exact location of their desired book on the shelf. This method will eliminate the need to understand library cataloguing, which can be confusing and frustrating for non-library users who may end up giving up on the task of finding a book in the first place.


04. Wall of Delight

An architectural E-Ink solution using PRISM technology to direct and delight library users. Large blank walls within the library will be covered in ‘e-wallpaper’ which serves as wayfinding while also displaying animated or static artwork personalized to the user. 




Prototype Exploration

We decided to proceed with concept 3 as the basis for Bookmark, as it hit the trifecta of innovation.




Other designs involved excessive costs and significant architectural changes, as well as complications handling multiple users


Deemed most useful based on peer and librarian feedback


Could be applied across multiple libraries and multiple industries


What We Learned

Using Sketch, InVision, and paper to create lo-fi prototypes, we uncovered the following insights during user testings to inform our design decisions for the final prototype.


Users struggled with various elements of the UI, which were unclear as to what possible actions could be taken.


Privacy concerns were around showing a user's full name on the E-Sign or E-Shelf strip.


Some users didn't even notice the E-Shelf strip when picking up their books.


Complications might arise with E-Ink labeling during busy periods, when multiple people are searching for books in the same area of the library.