GLAM - Substrakt


Dozens & Trails is a mobile application for iPhone, Android and iPad and was developed by Substrakt in collaboration with the new Library of Birmingham. The two partners have been working together closely for the last two years to explore ways in which the library's wealth of content can be more accessible, interactive and engaging to their existing users and attract new audiences, keeping the library sector current and enticing to an ever-growing digitally savvy population. Substrakt and the library continue to work together and have secured funding to develop further iterations of the application and improve the offering.

The application showcases some of the Libraries most interesting imagery as collections in sets of 12 (The Dozens). The trails consist of 12 items, which can be located on a map and which make a trail around the city. Users have the ability to share the asset title to Twitter, Facebook or email with a link to download the application.

Role of partners

Substrakt and the library team (currently residing under the local authority of Birmingham City Council) worked in tandem to conceive and conceptualize the idea. Substrakt then led the design and development of the app while the Library led the content strategy. Service Birmingham (current technical partner of the council) provided support during the testing phase. A further partner, the Library Development Trust, joined at the latter stage to support the business proposition and fund raising.

Why is it needed?

The new library, opening September 2013, is billed as a library like no other and uses the strap-line 'rewriting the book'. One of the key objectives is to provide an outstanding digital offering, so a considered and appropriate mobile solution was required. With an expectation from consumers to be able to access content online 24/7, Libraries are looking increasingly to open up content and collections across web and mobile. Parts of the Library of Birmingham collection is behind closed doors; so publishing this content to a mobile application ensures accessibility and allows audiences to discover new treasures. Libraries, and other cultural organisations, are now keen to secure a commercial return to support on-going digital maintenance and development, so it’s been important to set a solid foundation with the app on which to build a strategic commercialization proposition.

What are the success factors and challenges?

The new library is a huge project for the city, and with such a landmark building comes a lot of attention and expectation. A key challenge of the Dozens & Trails app was to ensure it would be suitable for a wide and diverse demographic. This involved very careful consideration and consultation on both the functionality and design elements of the app.

The content strategy for the app is obviously a vital factor contributing to its success. The images used have to be engaging and of interest to all ages, and be curated into insightful and dozens and mapped onto physical locations in the case of trails. The app concept was considered extremely innovative by many library staff who were called on to put forward ideas for dozens, the lead team within the library effectively managed the challenge of publishing images and associated copy at a consistent high quality.

More information