February 17, 2018

Matthew Cook | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Digital Developers

Matthew Cook


Emerging Technology Librarian, University of Oklahoma Libraries, Norman, OK

MA, Philosophy, University of Oklahoma, 2012; MLS, University of Oklahoma SLIS, 2016 projected

Photo by Bob Stefko

Mindful Interaction

Working the 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at the University of Oklahoma’s Bizzell Memorial Library in his first full-time library job, Matt Cook noticed that students studying during those hours often appeared stressed out. Temporary diversions such as Facebook or other social media only seemed to distract them. Leveraging his background in philosophy and cognition, Cook began to think about how technology might help solve this problem instead of contributing to it.

The result was the Sparq labyrinth, an interactive meditation tool that projects a variety of labyrinths onto the floor. Students say the five-minute “mindfulness exercise”—walking the labyrinths—actually does the trick, calming them down and clearing their minds.

Cook has continued to apply this same creativity since his recent appointment as emerging technology librarian. His nominators, for example, rave about an indoor GPS system that Cook proposed and developed. It enables students to use mobile devices to receive alerts and view location-appropriate maps and tips within the library.

“When I hear about a senior, for example, coming to the library for the first time [during his or her undergraduate studies], that’s unacceptable,” Cook says. “But people are intimidated by a half-million square foot facility with countless resources, services, and experts. They don’t know where to begin.” The indoor GPS could minimize the intimidation factor.

If a test at the library’s Collaborative Learning Commons is a success, the system could be rolled out campuswide, helping “to underscore the library as the intellectual crossroads of the university,” one nominator says. One planned project that would use indoor GPS is Galileo’s World, an exhibition beginning in August that will span seven locations, including all three Oklahoma campuses.

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.