Books that really match the interests of children!
Picking up a book and reading away the hours is not number one on the to-do lists of today’s youth — digital temptations are lurking around every corner. Matching children with books that will intrigue and captivate them is a daunting challenge, more than ever. Enter the Bieblo app: connecting kids with books in a playful and interactive way.
A gamified interface for children
Cultuurconnect, the organisation whose raison d’etre is digital innovation in art and culture, approached us with the request for an application with a novel and child friendly interface. The goal was to guide and simplify childrens’ quests for interesting books.
Bieblo gives kids a limited display of books tailored to their age and interests. The app informs them about where they can find each recommendation in the library. Bieblo only recommends books that are available to check out.
Bieblo encourages kids between 6 to 11 to playfully discover books that match their interests. The app shows them images of specific themes: fantasy, animals, sports, … Swiping an image to the right means they like the theme. If they swipe left they aren’t interested in it. Once the young literary critic has judged all the themes, they’re presented with a digital bookcase showcasing 8 covers. All of the suggestions are available at their library at that moment and are a match with their interests and age category.
From Open Data-hackaton to a scalable product
Cultuurconnect already obtained a proof of concept (POC) through an Open Data-hackaton, and was looking to develop the project to a full-fledged scalable product. Bits of Love had experience working with their open data after previously creating a successful app for De Krook, the city library of Ghent. Rekindling that partnership for the Bieblo project felt like a logical decision
- At this moment, Bieblo is active in 235 Flemisch libraries.
- Our Dutch neighbours are very interested in implementing the app in their own local libraries.
- The most popular themes in 2020 were ‘Humor’, ‘Friendship’ and ‘Animals’.
- The app is used most frequently by 11-year-olds.
To present the data in an original way, we performed a technical analysis on how to combine the different Cultuurconnect API’s into an efficient book recommendation system. Based on Cultuurconnect’s datastreams we build a scalable and dynamic architecture by using the newest Cloud techniques. We made sure to include fallbacks that ensure full performance of the application, even when there’s a heavy server load caused by many simultaneous users.
Cultuurconnect received full admin control over the admin of the app. They’re able to activate and manage the Bieblo app individually for each participating library. Keeping in mind the different types of libraries and wide range of devices they have available, we focussed on optimizing the tool to also run on less recent appliances or touch devices.
‘Bieblo’ travelled a fascinating trajectory: born as a concept during the Apps for Ghent hackathon ‘Hack de Bib’ in 2015, raised as a challenge in the ‘Open summer of code’, and graduated to a marketable product. It’s a tale of innovation and entrepreneurship cultivated outside the start-up hype.