Interactive Map of Carpenter Library Reveals Just How Many Books are Hiding in the Carrels

A new group of Digital Scholarship Graduate Assistants has been spending the Spring term exploring how digital technologies can provide scholars with new avenues of research. In an effort to put into practice some of what they have been learning, the group has been working on a collaborative project that they hope will be of interest to their peers in the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics and History of Art. Since Carpenter Library is home to all three Graduate Group disciplines, the DS Graduate Assistants wondered if the library itself might provide an interesting dataset for them to explore and visualize.

As many patrons know, the carrels located throughout Carpenter not only provide study space to students, but they also house a number of books which graduate students use in their research. Students are able to check out books to their carrels for easy reference while ensuring that these books remain accessible to other patrons.

After obtaining the raw data about every book checked out to these carrels on a day in late March, the DS Graduate Assistants set out to discover how they might process this information and make it easier to digest. This involved “cleaning” the data and experimenting with different modes of visualizing it.

The result is the Carpenter Carrel Project, an interactive map of the library that allows users to explore a snapshot of the number and range of books housed at each carrel. It is the product of several different digital tools working in concert. Rachel Starry used the programming language R to clean up the raw data and generate graphs for each carrel. Nathanael Roesch designed a new floor plan of Carpenter Library in Adobe Illustrator and worked with Elena Gittleman to devise a color-coded key. Andrew Tharler assembled the map in CARTO, a web platform that interprets, displays, and visually analyzes geospatial data. And Stella Fritzell took time from planning the DS Summer Fellows program to provide brainstorming, project feedback, and emotional support.

Want more? Check out the fullscreen version of the Carpenter Carrel Project.

How to Use the Carpenter Carrel Project Map

The map is interactive and dynamic. Here are a few ways you can explore Carpenter library:

  • Click and drag to pan around the library.
  • Hover over the stacks to view the range of call numbers on the shelves.
  • Hover over the carrels to view individual carrel numbers.
  • Click on a carrel to see a graph of the different books checked out to that carrel.
  • Click behind the circulation desk to see a legend for the colors and call numbers.
  • The widgets along the side of the map display histograms for the different subjects studied in the library. The x-axis represents the number of books in a given subject, and the height of the bars represent the number of carrels with that number of books checked out. For example, there are 3 carrels which have 17 World History books.
  • Widgets update automatically based on the part of the map you are viewing. If you are zoomed in to only Floor A of Carpenter, the graphs will only show data for the carrels that are visible. If you zoom out, the widgets will update to reflect more carrels.
  • To find carrels that have a particular number of books in a category, highlight a range in the relevant histogram. Once selected, only the carrels with those books will appear on the map. At the same time, the other widgets will update to display data about only the highlighted carrels. For example, selecting the bar furthest to the right in the Philosophy, Psychology, Religion category will reveal the only carrel with 13 of those books, and the other widgets show that this carrel also has 10 World History books, 3 Language and Literature books, etc.
  • Click “Auto Style” (the tear-drop icon) at the top of the widget window to re-style the carrels according to that particular subject: the darker carrels indicate more books in that subject, while the lighter carrels have fewer books from that subject..