Microsoft Surface tables installed, tested in three Harvard libraries

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Microsoft Surface tables—imagine large tablet computers on table legs—were installed in Lamont, Cabot and Wolbach Libraries to explore their application to research, teaching and learning.

Approximately 60 Harvard undergraduates were involved in testing them for ease of use and applicability of the software to research.

“The general feedback from students has been positive,” said Christopher Erdmann of Wolbach Library. “During one test, a student commented that he hadn’t known some of the items he saw on the screen were even in Harvard’s collections. The student was then directed to a display case directly behind him which included the original item.” Erdmann first proposed installing the Surface tables to “provide a digital space for serendipitous discovery.”

Susan Berstler of Cabot Library added, “One of the goals of the project is to be able to use the tables to complement teaching curriculums with high-resolution, close-up images of research materials from the Harvard Library collections and elsewhere.”