by Brian W. Brush, Yong Ju Lee, and Noa Younse
Filament Mind is Teton County Library’s public art piece, privately supported by the Teton County Library Foundation and donations from the Teton County Library Friends. It is a data-driven installation that visualizes the collective curiosities and questions of Wyoming library patrons. Whenever any Wyoming public library visitor anywhere in the state performs a search of the library catalog from a computer, Filament Mind illuminates that search in a flash of color and light through glowing bundles of fiber optic cables.
Each of the 1000 fiber optic cables hanging above (totaling over 5 miles of cable) corresponds to a call number in the Dewey Decimal System, which organizes the library’s collection into approximately 1000 categories of knowledge. These category titles are displayed in text on the lobby’s south and north walls.
When a search is performed by a library patron, the Dewey Decimal call numbers of the items suggested to the patron instruct Filament Mind to illuminate the group of cables and text corresponding to the call numbers’ titles in vibrant yellow. Then, if a patron actually clicks on an item to view it, Filament Mind illuminates the group corresponding to that item in bright blue. It also illuminates the cables of related call numbers so that patrons can see what other categories of information are related to topics being searched.
If patrons are lucky, they will occasionally experience a “Fireworks” moment when Filament Mind displays how infusions of private support invigorate the library through donations large and small to the Library Foundation. These contributions make possible vital library offerings such as early literacy initiatives; programs for children, teens, and adults; Page to the Podium author visits; all the library’s public access computers; and more. Visit tclib.org/foundation for more information about supporting the library through the Library Foundation.