Hack Dibner 2022

“Check out” winning new methods of enhancing user experience in NYU Libraries

winners of hack dinner 2022

Participants of the annual Hack Dibner student competition, which challenges students to use technology to address user issues at the library.

Dibner Library, as any Tandon student will probably tell you, can elicit a variety of reactions: awe at the sheer amount of knowledge contained in its volumes, eagerness to buckle down and study in a quiet atmosphere conducive to concentration ... and frustration at the problems using the space sometimes poses, from finding an unoccupied study room to navigating the stacks.

The annual “Hack Dibner” competition challenges NYU students to use technology to address such issues both here at Dibner and other NYU libraries, and this year several teams — with the help of a group of dedicated mentors and a series of workshops on topics like project management under their belts — came up with innovative solutions to the issues that most vexed them.

Final presentations were held in early December, and a team of judges assessed their work on the basis of impact (20 points), feasibility (20 points), contextual inquiry and user experience (20 points), creativity (20 points), written proposal (10 points), and final pitch (10 points). Teams who attended the workshops and consulted library mentors could also be awarded five bonus points for engagement and grit, and when the judges had completed their difficult task, winners of a $500 first-place prize and $250 second-place prize were announced.

First place went to Trick Coders (Priyanka Bose and Chandra Shekhar Pandey, both computer engineering graduate students), whose idea involved updating the room reservation and cancellation system and employing a machine learning algorithm to predict library patronage and study room usage. (They were able to test their code in advance, thanks to Libraries' UX Manager Iris Bierlein, who granted them access to the LibCal room reservation system's API.)

Second-place winners the Dibnerds (Class of 2025 undergrads Aditi Sharma and Rosie Wang, both computer engineering majors, and Christina Woo, who is studying civil engineering) also tackled the thorny room-reservation system, creating cost-effective, user-friendly changes to NYU’s existing mobile app.

An audience-favorite poll was taken during the finals, and Team Chirguse (computer engineering grad students Chirayu Bhatt, Muskan Gandhi, and Anshika Gupta) easily aced that category with a humorous, meme-filled presentation that also suggested needed changes to the mobile app.

While they did not go home with cash prizes, other finalist teams thought of interesting and innovative ideas to help make the library a more welcoming and useful place for all. These included:

  • Dibner Daily (graduate biomedical engineering student Lokesh Sharma and Class of 2024 computer science undergraduate Semi Hong)
  • AuDA or Automatic Dibner Assistant (Computer science major Daniel Zhang and mechanical engineering major Junho So, both undergraduates from the Class of 2025)
  • Digital Dibner (Joe Prakash and Igor Rodrigues, undergraduate computer engineering students from the Class of 2024)

“All of the teams put in a strong showing this year,” said Lindsay Anderberg, Tandon’s Interdisciplinary Science & Technology Librarian and Poly Archivist, who helped organize the competition. “We heard lots of great proposals to strengthen the NYU app, update the room reservation system, alert students of services and available seating, and build a shelf-reading robot that leads patrons through the stacks to their call number section.”


  • Ben Bayor, Lead Student Assistant, Dibner Library
  • Hebah Emara, Librarian for Open Innovation, NYU Libraries
  • Lisa Gayhart, Director of User Experience, NYU Libraries
  • Molly Ritmiller, Design Lab Manager, NYU Tandon MakerSpace
  • Nick Wolf, Head of Data Services, NYU Libraries