And the winners are…

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This post is by volunteer Allison Moore.

Over the weekend, a diverse group of people came together as developers, designers, librarians, and business development folks to tackle issues facing libraries. On Sunday afternoon, they presented their demos, and after lengthy deliberations by the illustrious panel of judges, the winners were announced.

The judging criteria were equally weighted between library impact, customer validation, product execution and business development. The demos were incredibly impressive, but four teams rose above. Congratulations to all the participants. We’re excited to see what the next few months hold.

First Place
The Hub connects library patrons to their communities, truly positioning libraries as a community hub. By including community organizations within library catalogues, The Hub enables patrons to search for organizations and groups in their community in the same way that they search for books and periodicals.

Of the 55 librarians that The Hub surveyed, 51 said they’d love to see community resources listed in their library. 22 of 25 patrons felt similarly. By combining a well-designed business model, strong focus on customer validation, and focus on positioning libraries at the center of their communities, The Hub earned the first prize.

Second Place
Second Place went to Space Valet, who are tackling the problem of finding study space within university libraries. 95% of the students they surveyed indicated that they have trouble finding study space, wasting time every day. Using Wi-Fi data and a user opt-in check-in system, the Space Valet app helps students choose the libraries with free space and guides students to areas of the building where they’re most likely to find a desk.
Through a pilot project at the Dana Porter Library at the University of Waterloo, Space Valet plans to form a solid student user base, test and refine their app, and prepare to market their app to Universities across Canada.

Third Place
A close third, Raisin Readers is promoting early literacy by sharing the great early literacy resources that libraries have online, and building a web app that supports parents reading to their children. Through curated book lists, achievement badges, and maintaining a history of what books they’ve read, Raisin Readers makes it easier for parents to find books to read with their children, and encourages them to keep reading. The web app connects directly into the library catalogue, letting parents know about story times, events their children might be interested in, and availability of books in the catalogue.

Organizer’s Choice
BrookList, the Organizer’s Choice winner, truly embodied the spirit of startup weekend. They were focused on the observation that when they place holds on books, all of the books tend to become available at the same time, often after a long wait, and they’re unable to read all of them before they’re due back. The team had some early setbacks, but their pitch demonstrated a deep understanding of the problem, drawing on ample established research as well as a community survey to convince everyone that this was an issue worth addressing. Going forward, they hope to build a simulated library environment so that they can model different solutions to the problem.