CultuurConnect

Perfectly matching books to children’s interests with Bieblo!

Picking up a book and reading away the hours isn’t usually number one on the to-do lists of today’s youth – digital temptations lurk around every corner. Matching children with books that will intrigue and captivate them is a daunting challenge, now more than ever. Enter the Bieblo app: connecting kids with books in a playful and interactive way.

Perfectly matching books to children's interests with Bieblo!
Client CultuurConnect
Services
  • Gamification
  • Data analysis & architecture
  • Interfaces for kids

A gamified interface for children

Cultuurconnect, the organisation whose raison d’être is digital innovation within 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 children’s 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 the ages of 6 and 11 to discover books that match their interests in a playful way. 

The app shows them images of specific themes and genres, e.g. fantasy, animals, sports, … . Swiping an image to the right means they like that theme. If they swipe left, they’re not interested in it. Once the young literary critic has judged all the available themes, they’re presented with a digital bookcase that showcases 8 front covers. All of these suggestions match their interests and age category, and are available at their local library at that very moment. 

Bieblo mock up v2 high res boeken

From an Open Data-hackathon to a scalable product

Cultuurconnect had previously obtained the proof of concept (POC) through an Open Data-hackathon and was on the lookout to develop this project into a full-fledged, scalable product. As Bits of Love had prior experience working with their open data after creating a successful app for De Krook (Ghent’s city library), rekindling this partnership for the Bieblo project simply felt like a logical decision! 

Highlights

  • Bieblo is currently active in 345 Flemish libraries. 
  • Our Dutch neighbours are very interested in implementing the app in their own local libraries. 
  • The most popular themes in 2020 were Humour’, 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 built a scalable and dynamic architecture 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 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 focused on optimising the tool to also run on less recent appliances and 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 finally graduated to a marketable product. It’s a tale of innovation and entrepreneurship cultivated outside of the start-up hype.

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