Given that the main mission of libraries is to offer equality of access to information for every citizen, then why not be a trendsetter in digital use and implement more emerging technologies? As Mogens Vestergaard, Manager of Library and Citizen Service at Roskilde Libraries in Denmark emphasizes in our interview here, “it is the library’s obligation to be at the edge of different uses of culture and uses of technology”.

This article presents a range of relevant and useful innovative technologies to implement at the library. We focus on the technology’s applicability and the benefits it could bring to the library.

Want to also know what are the current technology trends in libraries? From digital storytelling, VR to kinetic bikes and RFID technology, John Garland helps us look at how libraries are using technology to improve services for customers today. Read more in part two of this series here.

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1. Big data

Along with all the technological advancements, people’s most basic activities are generating more data than ever. The storage and analysis of large datasets can be a real advantage for librarians as they have the relevant skills and knowledge to make the best use of these massive sources of information.

The storage and analysis of large #datasets can be a real advantage for #librarians as they have the relevant skills and #knowledge to make the best use of these massive sources of #information. Click To Tweet

How can big data be used by libraries? Big data can improve the library’s activity overall, by simply having access to more insights into the user’s mind. In an article written on publiclibrariesonline.org  about the use of big data in libraries, Ginny Mies emphasizes that “libraries can use core customer intelligence to better reach customers, create a better connection with the community and become more relevant and stay more flexible and adaptable to all the environment changes”. You can read the whole article here.

Furthermore, libraries can use big data to create a personalized user experience by offering content and resources based on each individual wish. But at the same time, libraries must consider the privacy issues coming with any access to personal data.

2. Artificial Intelligence

With Siri and Alexa available on everyone’s devices nowadays, artificial intelligence is no longer a futuristic technology as it is gaining more and more traction in our everyday activities. As Kristin Whitehair stresses in an article on Public Libraries Online Website, “with many AI applications focused on delivering information to the user, it can appear that AI is a challenge to libraries”. But at the same time, she adds that “the intelligence is artificial, not human. Libraries can connect people to information and, more importantly, to other people”, whereas AI can’t.

Adding an intelligent side to all applications at the library is a real opportunity to understand the patterns in user behavior and adapt to their needs.



3. Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology has been one of the most discussed technologies in the past year, as Bitcoin has gained more and more power. Blockchain technology represents a decentralized database that keeps records of pseudonymized digital transactions that are visible to anyone within the network. Therefore, it is a new way to collect and store data.

Sue Alman, a teacher on emerging technologies highlights in an article for EdSurge that blockchain technology “could be used to build an enhanced metadata system for libraries, to keep track of digital-first sale rights and ownership, to connect networks of libraries and universities, or even to support community-based borrowing and skill sharing programs.”

4. Internet Of Things

Since having connection to the internet has become a necessity more than a luxury, The Internet of Things (IOT) receives more and more attention. Just like the RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology, IOT refers to the possibility of connecting everyday devices and transferring data between them. But only in the case of IOT, the data is transferred over the Internet. As a recent article on American Library Association website highlights, there are many “opportunities for library applications, from tracking room usage and program attendance to monitoring humidity levels for special collections and more”. Therefore, the library can offer a better user experience by enriching its services and collections.

The #library can offer a better user experience by enriching its #services and #collections. #technology #IOT #drones #AR #AI #librarians Click To Tweet

The example given in the article shows Hillsboro Public Library in Oregon who has introduced the Book-O-Mat, a self-service kiosk which is monitored from the main library to track usage and identify usage trends and make recommendations.

5. Library bookmark apps

In his article on the “eBook friendly” website, Piotr Kowalczyk gives a few examples of technologies that could be used in the future. The author mentions an interesting device from a Chinese design company Toout that acts as a regular bookmark but also has additional features that facilitate the user’s activity related to finding books.

#library bookmark app: acts as a regular bookmark but also has additional features that facilitate the user’s activity related to finding #books. Click To Tweet

The tool is still in the concept phase but features the possibility to offer directions to the user regarding the book they want to find or keep track of their lending activity in a more interactive way. Locating books inside the library is still a struggle for many users so a functionality that can guide the user towards the book is a cutting-edge fix to this problem.

6. User-focused interfaces and application

One of the future perspectives of library services is a personalized interaction between the system and the user. Whether this is an interactive game projected onto the floor for children to interact with, digital exhibitions featured on screens, big screens in libraries that can be used to offer different kinds of information and also inspire users to find certain books or a simple display that allows taking a ‘selfie’; libraries can use technology to create a digital experience for the user.

For example, The State Library of Queensland has recently created “Unstacked”, a new way of digitally visualizing the State Library’s collection. In her interview with Princh, Jane Cowell explains more about the new project: “Unstacked” continuously updates to reflect the real-time searching of users as they search the library catalogue. She adds that “there is amazing content that is hidden in the collection but unless a user is specifically searching for it, this content remains hidden.” This visual showcase of the items in the library’s collection is curated by the user and is continually updating and it is hoped that it will motivate and inspire users to explore the collection more widely.

7. Augmented reality

Augmented reality is a hot topic in the tech world and people are curious about its deployment in various domains, from medicine to gaming. So why not implement it in libraries too and combine digital with reality? 

AR’s