The Internet of Things (IoT), a recent shift in technology that libraries’ and library staff should be familiar with as it may help improve the services, resources and experience that libraries’ can provide. In this week’s post Barbi Gardiner, an IT librarian, social media manager and founder of Library Tech talk, discusses all things IoT and libraries.
IoT in Libraries
Libraries are changing – that’s a fact. Today’s libraries look nothing like the libraries we grew up with 30 years ago…think card catalogs and cardigan wearing librarians shushing you for talking above a whisper.
Today’s libraries look more like community hubs and places full activity, innovation and technology. The reason for this change is simple. Libraries have had to adapt in order to maintain a relevant presence in our society.
Rather than be left behind, libraries have met the challenges associated with the adoption of new technologies head on and have adapted to these changes in order to provide the best services to patrons. In fact, it has become second nature to provide patrons with what they have come to expect in our technology driven world. At its core, libraries are having the same mission as they always have…to meet the needs of their communities.
One of the most recent changes in technology is the shift from the ‘Internet of Communication’ to the ‘Internet of Things’ or IoT. This exciting and emerging technology makes it possible to connect everyday objects, that are not themselves computers, by embedding sensors in them. This means that the IoT can include anything from factories, cars, appliances, toothbrushes, pacemakers and even lightbulbs.
The data collected from these sensors is then transferred over a network without requiring human interaction, all while having the networking capabilities that make it possible to communicate with each other, access Internet services and interact with people. (Techtarget 2018). In short, the IoT are simply objects or things where the infrastructure and technology involved are sensors, processors, cloud computing, and wireless connectivity.
It stands to reason then that this new paradigm is bound to impact library models, patron experiences, and our everyday lives. It will bring a myriad of changes to the library arena, most importantly the way the library connects and communicates with its patrons.
Some of the ways that the IoT is already utilized in libraries are technologies such as RFID (radio frequency identification) technology that allows for item identification and item security, machine 2 machine (M2M) communication, which are devices such as self-check kiosks or automated materials handling machines, and semantic search technologies that include metadata and discovery tools.
Risks of IoT Implementation:
The rewards of this technology are many, but is also not without its risks. Libraries need to take into account a few serious considerations before implementing new IoT technologies.
- First is privacy and security of patron’s data as there is a possibility of sharing this data with third parties, which may lead to hacking.
- Secondly, the cost of investing in IoT technologies in terms of money, manpower and time.
- Thirdly, staff training in the usage of these new technologies.
Having no plan for staying on top of technology change guarantees the failure and irrelevance of libraries. Since we have no plans of letting that happen, libraries need to herald in these technology changes as they happen and be ready to implement them.
We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!