Hack Dibner 2023
The annual competition challenges NYU students to use technology to address vexing issues at NYU libraries
We’ve all been there: staring helplessly at a recalcitrant printer that refuses to spit out our desperately needed pages or — even worse — ejects them in a crumpled, unusable heap. Multiply that frustration several times if you’re a student with a big assignment due or finals looming.
While the Bern Dibner Library is an admittedly impressive facility with a cadre of knowledgeable and tech-savvy workers, even its fleet of printers is not immune to the occasional problem.
Students Riola Musoke-Lubega, Nisha Ramanna, Megan Kim, Olivia Marcellin, and Kevin Yap have developed a solution: “Dibby,” a chatbot assistant that leverages AI to help users troubleshoot printer errors, streamline the print refund process, and generate an automated log of problems for the Dibner IT staff.
Competing as the “Clicksters,” the team took home the $500 grand prize and fan-favorite honors at this year’s “Hack Dibner” event.
The annual Hack Dibner competition challenges NYU students to use technology to address vexing issues both here at Dibner and other NYU libraries, and this year, as in the past, 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 stymied them when using the libraries.
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 up to seven bonus points for engagement and grit.
Judges were also impressed by a team called “D-tech Dibs” (Fei Wang, Cher Wang, Cindy Chen, Ariadne Wong), who also tackled printer woes; they proposed creating an app that provides real-time updates on printer availability, clarity on balances and refund processes, updates on print job status with numerical and visual indicators, and a comprehensive FAQ section for common printer issues — an idea that won them a runner-up prize of $250.
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:
- Team Agile (Darrien Gopaul, Florjon Haxhija), who proposed creating an app that would allow students to seamlessly reserve private study rooms and view capacity in library study spaces.
- Team Inclusive Design (Ana Eremina, Vandana Rajesh, Shashwat Mishra, Khushi Sharma, Aditya Garyali), who envisioned an app that will provide personalized book recommendations and a "Weekly New Arrivals" email to students to encourage library usage
- Nevermind (Sakshi Kulkarni, Sarthak Goel), who suggested implementing semantic search technology that goes beyond keyword matching and considers the meaning and context of words and phrases in the search
- Winner Winner Chicken Dibner (Aditya Deepak Joshi, Garvit Luhadia), who created Amethyst, an AI-powered tool to summarize uploaded papers
- CodeCrafters (Shruti Garg, Meenesh Solanki), who suggested incorporating meeting room setups (such as a hanging microphone, interactive whiteboards, and digital canvases) to allow users to collaboratively sketch, annotate, and discuss academic materials in real time
- ChatDBN (Anna Kozlova, Paulina Kolesnikova, Blanca García del Cerro, Marjorie Yang), who proposed shortening the time it takes to get answers to questions about library resources by introducing a chatbot on the Dibner website
- idkman (Makesh Srinivasan), who envisioned an AI-powered virtual research assistant he called Tenali, capable of summarizing and paraphrasing uploaded research documents
- Libraryer (Qiming Liu), who tackled the problem of noisy patrons via a mobile app that would allow students to send notifications to library staff when noise levels got out of hand and, as an added bonus, also serve as a social media platform for sharing study experiences
- Team AKPN (Patrick Hsu, Karan Shah, Alex Trujillo, Naël Andre), who designed a tool with a vibrating sensor that can be attached to library chairs: based on the set time-interval, the tool would prompt the user to stand up, stretch, and take a study break
- Madibs (Kim Nguyen, Tiffany Lee, Jacquelyn Gomez, Naidelyn Hernandez), who recognized the need to enhance Dibner's digital space by revamping the website and incorporating Live Map features to provide noise and crowd status with student input
Hack Dibner 2023 was coordinated by Lindsay Anderberg, Interdisciplinary Science & Technology Librarian and Poly Archivist; Matthew Frenkel, Engineering Librarian; Amanda He, STEM Instruction and Engagement Librarian; Hebah Emara, Open Innovation Librarian; Kanishk Pandey, IT Services Administrator; and Samuel Putnam, Director of Bern Dibner Library.
Hack Dibner 2023 also had the help of the Hack Dibner 2022 grand prize winning team, Trick Coders – Priyanka Bose and Chandra Shekhar Pandey – with Bose serving as the Pitch Mentor for teams, and Pandey on the Judging Panel.
“Hack Dibner is a competition that is rooted in experiential learning,” says Samuel Putnam. “Participants are inspired by common student experiences and develop those experiences from idea to proof of concept over the course of a semester, all the while interacting with stakeholders, collaborating with their team, and receiving mentorship from experts. Every Hack Dibner Finals, I am reminded of how incredibly talented our students are because they produce such interesting, relevant, and creative projects. In the end, the participants leave as better collaborators, better project managers, and maybe Hack Dibner winners.”
Hack Dibner 2023 judging panel:
- Gaby Garcia, EDI Student Success Librarian at NYU Libraries
- Jeremy Umali, Library IT Operations Manager at NYU Libraries
- Keith Mauppa, Programs Manager at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute
- Chandra Shekhar Pandey,Hack Dibner 2022 grand prize winner