IE Library: AI, Robots and More


One of the most common criticisms that students have towards the university is the physical constraint of the IE Library. At first glance, the expressed concerns may appear to be true, however, many students fail to notice the general progress the library has made so far, especially towards developing and adapting virtual technologies to enhance its user experience. Obviously, the physical capacity of the library has remained the same, with 167 spots in the Madrid campus and 157 spots in Segovia, but since 2017, the Library, in partnership with a software development firm called Smart Areas, compensated for the constraints by introducing a mobile app, virtual and augmented reality stops, robotic assistants and many other techie wonders. In the following interview, I spoke with IE Library Staff Noelia Romero and Belén Real.

What is the new app the library has released and how does it work?

The DiY IE Library APP is an application that make it possible and easy to take IE Library with the users, wherever they go, in every device, 24/7. It allows the user to manage the items directly from the phone using an NFC reader, consult loans, manage and hold renewals, search and browse the IE Library catalog, and conduct payments through credit card or PayPal.

The DiY IE Library APPis available to all IE Community – students, professors, researchers, staff and alumni.

To access the application, IE credentials are required, which are later stored by the application as long as the session is not closed. The user also needs an IE ID Card, which is necessary to borrow, renew and do payments. To make a loan, for example, pre-activation is needed, and it can be done within 24 hours at any of the copy-machines.

Moreover, the DiY IE Library APP allows you to:

  • Smart borrow and return: borrow, return and renew library items directly from your phone.
  • Checkouts: consult your loaned materials, their return date and renew your items.
  • Place and manage holds: consult your position in the hold queue and check if the materials you have requested are available for pick up at the library.
  • Do payments with credit card or Paypal
  • Quickly search IE Library and zero-in on what you want on WorldCat, the world’s largest library catalog
  • Mute/unmute your phone easily when enter or exit the library.

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What is the smart station and how does it work? Can it make the borrowing process completely autonomous?

The Smart Station is an innovative and modern space within the library facilities, that host two latest generation mobiles, and two trolleys, one to manage the holds and other one to return the books. The loan process is completely autonomous. The student can choose either to download the app in their own phone, or to use those we provide in the Smart Station, and they will always return the books, and pick the holds in the Smart Station. Although the process is autonomous, there is always a librarian in the library to solve any question and help.

What is the concept of vertical library, and how many libraries around the world are implementing it?

Vertical Library is a concept that the IE Library had developed itself. It refers to a new paradigm of libraries, the library of the future, that expand the limit of the facilities to acquire immerse and accessible content for every part and device. The library is not only a physical space in a building, but is everywhere in the university building, and beyond, it’s any device, country, home, etc.

What are some of the resources students can get from the library, and what is the best way to access them?

The IE Library’s approach means creating a strong added value for students and professors’ research. It provides the user with the best resources from around the world from a variety of disciplines. The access to Worldcat, a worldwide catalog with online academic collections as well as tools for research, provides thousands of document databases from different disciplines, eBooks, company reports, industry profiles, SWOT analyses, Premium Online Press, research resources, and technological services that get the information in the best way, whilst anticipating future.

How often does the library receive new content?

The library renews the licenses with the resources every year and incorporate new ones according to the Community demand. The eBook and e-Journal collection is being updated constantly, as per the syllabus of the different degrees, masters and programs.

What are some other technologies and innovations the library is working on for the future?

IE Library is always trying to detect the latest trends on technology and apply it to the library services and hence, improve the user experience. Physical barriers disappear, applications and technological devices transform IE library into an intelligent space. One of our brand-new projects is Pepper, a new library assistant, that combines artificial intelligence and BOTs. Again, the goal is to change the way students search and learn. This includes the adoption of Play & Searchwith IE Tags Beat; gamification, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence – a completely new way of perceiving and accessing information. Basically, reinventing learning!

How was the feedback and reception of the students to the new technologies?

The reception was excellent, and every year, more and more students discover it, always with the same reaction. The most common feedback is about the easy usability that provides a fast service, in commitment with the new trends in technology. Essentially, IE Library comes out, not only as a center for research, but a place to experience latest generation technology, as there are always projects that apply technologies to optimize library services.

Images courtesy of IE University.

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