UNSW Library unveils 'heartbeat of the University'

13 May 2021
UNSW Library

UNSW Library Unstacked is a ground-breaking visualisation of research activity across the University.

From computer science to history and everything in between, there is no doubt the depth and breadth of expertise at UNSW is immense.

With researchers and students working across so many faculties, schools and areas of study, the one place where all this knowledge is brought together is UNSW Library – one of the most iconic buildings on campus, which also hosts an enviable digital collection of resources.

For the first time, people across the world can see the impact of the Library’s resources through UNSW Library Unstacked – a flagship digital initiative that aims to transform library spaces through the integration of innovative digital experiences.

UNSW Library Unstacked displays and interprets, in real-time, how the UNSW Library collection is being accessed and used by the university community throughout each day.

The visualisation reveals the scale, breadth and depth of library activity happening across the University that is otherwise invisible to the community.

Each time someone accesses an item online in the Library Collection, it is reflected in the visualisation.

Every view is counted and mapped to discipline clusters aligned with UNSW faculties.

Library video

The Library worked with designer Elisa Lee to develop this visualisation, which is an innovative intersection of data, visual communication and library science, with the goal of giving visibility to the digital library.

Hero Macdonald, Director, Learning Services, Digital Innovation and Library Experience says the project has done an excellent job of showing the true impact and value of the Library.

 “UNSW Library is a digital Library,” they said.

“Our website is one of the most well visited websites at UNSW and our digital collections are one of the most well used in Australia, but all of this is hidden from view.

“UNSW Library Unstacked seeks to make this invisible activity visible to the UNSW community”.

Jackson Mann, Curator, Special Collections and Exhibitions at UNSW Library said the visualisation will make a difference to the experience of students who regularly visit the Library.

“This visualisation shows the ebbs and flows of the University’s research activity as it moves through the Library collection,” he said.

“Over the course of each day, and throughout the term, students get to see the changing activity for the University as a whole and within each discipline.

“Over time, what we’re really seeing in Unstacked is the heartbeat of the University”.

UNSW Library Unstacked is on permanent display at the entrance of the Main Library and is accessible online on any device. Read more about the design and development of the visualisation on the Library’s Online Exhibition.