Previously we’ve looked at future technologies in libraries. This week guest writer John Garland, digital librarian and independent consultant, helps us look at how libraries are using technology to improve services for customers today. Innovative libraries are using digital tools to:
– Make services easier to use and access
– Inspire and inform
– Help customers learn new skills
Have a read and see which of these you could be adding next to your library.
1.Digital maker labs
Digital maker labs offer customers the chance to learn and use some of the most cutting-edge technology around. From 3D printers, Computer controlled CNC routers, to hot presses for T-shirts and Laser cutter-engravers, Maker Labs are popping up in libraries all over the UK. While it’s fair to say you won’t see one in every library, chances are your nearest Maker lab won’t be too far away.Digital Maker labs offer customers the chance to learn and use some of the most cutting-edge technology around. #libraries #librarylife Click To Tweet
Devon’s Fablabs are a fantastic example of the range of technology and activities that are possible in libraries. They offer 3D design and printing, 2D design events for adults and children and work with local businesses to help them prototype new products.
2. Coding clubs
With digital and IT everywhere in our lives, there’s been a real revolution in how we treat technology. Coding clubs are great because they teach children (and us) how to make and use technology the way we want it. Microbits, a tiny programmable computer designed by the BBC, the Arduino and Raspberry Pi are now being used or loaned out in libraries across the UK to teach children how to code, but also how to solve problems and design solutions for them.Microbits are now being used or loaned out in #libraries across the UK to teach children how to code, but also how to solve problems and design solutions for them. Click To Tweet
Plymouth Libraries run a range of code clubs from organized Code Club to the organized chaos and digital making of Hello World sessions, where children can play with Raspberry Pi’s Makey Makeys, and LittleBits, get involved in digital making.
You can now borrow a #microbit for free with your library card. At Hello World in the Central Library today we’ll show you how to get started. Drop in from 4pm. #microbitsinlibraries pic.twitter.com/kPCkaz35VH
— Plymouth Libraries (@plymlibraries) December 7, 2017
3. Digital storytelling
Libraries have always had a love affair with the written word, whether on paper, microfilm, CDROM or web page. Now libraries are working with writers and coders to create new interactive stories where the reader can become immersed and attempt to control the narrative flow.Now #libraries are working with writers and coders to create new interactive stories where the reader can become immersed and attempt to control the narrative flow. Click To Tweet
Guildford Libraries in Surrey ran a Gothic Story Jam, to encourage people to create art and interactive fiction and celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein and the birth of Emily Bronte. You can see all 46 Gothic Story Jam entries. In addition, the British Library is hosting the Narrative Games Convention in November to bring together developers and gamers with a passion for interactive storytelling.
4. Virtual reality
Allowing people to immerse themselves in a new universe is one of the main reasons why people enjoy reading books and visiting the library. This is where virtual reality comes into play! Many libraries have started offering to their users the chance to play, learn and explore other places just by sitting in the comfort of their local library. At the same time, virtual reality can be used to bring the library closer to the users by creating virtual tours of the library or even virtual workshops and training.Offer the users the chance to #play, #learn and #explore other places just by sitting in the comfort of the local #library. #librarytechnology #virtualreality #VR Click To Tweet
In the Wonder Lab at the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Connecticut, and California State Library, users are getting to play with virtual reality, and even learn how to code entire VR games from scratch!
@DaieneVernile Staff gave me a sneak preview of the Library’s new virtual reality equipment thanks to Improving Library Digital Services (ILDS) funding. I was an eagle flying through Paris. So many programming options. #VirtualReality #LibrariesTransform #HaltonHills pic.twitter.com/QrGz9fCF1n
— Geoff Cannon (@geoffcannon65) March 12, 2018
5. Mobile apps
Mobile apps are a real trend right now, as people have access to their mobile devices constantly. Also, people are spending more time on mobile apps and less time on mobile browsers. A mobile app can extend the library’s services outside their physical borders and facilitate the interaction with patrons.Mobile #library apps are a real trend right now, as people have access to their mobile devices constantly. Click To Tweet
An app that offers functionalities such as a library catalogue, interactive library guides, a library virtual tour, an interactive calendar with all the library’s events, the possibility to loan and read electronic books and articles, the possibility to reserve the library’s resources or to pay for some services represent a real benefit for the patrons, facilitating their activities at the library.
To think even further, the library can also use the mobile apps as part of a library service. Nicole Henning, a library mobile technology professional made a list of 50 ideas for creative uses of mobile apps in library services and includes ideas like app workshops, app clubs, augmented reality books, and more so check it out.
6. Open Libraries
The more open library concept is relatively new and controversial, especially outside Scandinavia. Even so, this combination of staffed and unmanned library services is beneficial to the community and it ensures the need for libraries is fulfilled, especially in smaller communities. Thus, open libraries are being used to extend opening hours and not to reduce staffed hours.Open #libraries are being used to extend opening hours and not to reduce staffed hours. Click To Tweet
In response to financial challenges, while wanting to improve services to the public, Peterborough Libraries were among the first libraries in the UK to roll out the UK’s first open model of libraries. In our chat with Lisa Roberts, Head of Culture and Leisure at Peterborough City Council, she emphasized that the way in which patrons use the library is changing: “the public consultation revealed that the most valued aspects of libraries are the ability to borrow books, access to information and the possibility to access the library outside of normal opening hours“.
— bibliotheca (@smartlibrariesD) May 19, 2017
7. RFID technologies
Lately, as libraries have extended their hours of availability, new forms of self-service solutions have emerged in the form of machines or software for different processes. Tools such as inventory readers, fines payment or reception of returned materials are facilitating the user flow at the library and the staffs’ daily activity.As #libraries have extended their hours of availability, new forms of self-service solutions have emerged in the form of machines or software for different processes. Click To Tweet
A great example of how libraries can design their own solutions comes from Suffolk Libraries. Suffolk have developed their own self-service machines in collaboration with Dootrix . Designed with the help of UX experts, the new self-service software is cheaper and extremely easy to use.
8. Cloud printing, copying, and scanning
The digital era has been directly affecting home printing. People no longer need to print pages in large quantities. This is where libraries can come in handy for people who don’t want to keep a printer at home any longer, or whose printer has broken. Cloud printing supports mobile working and traveling and means that people can work wherever there is a library rather than needing a traditional office space.
It can also attract different kinds of people who might not previously have used a library. Cloud printing has become commonplace in libraries because it gives users the ability to utilize their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to print.#Libraries can come in handy for people who don’t want to keep a #printer at home any longer, or whose printer has broken. Click To Tweet
Randers Libraries in Denmark implemented Princh’s cloud-based printing solution in early November 2015 so that their users can easily print and pay from their own devices. In our chat with Hans Nielsen from Randers Libraries he highlights that “the service has benefited everyone. Users don’t need to sign up in the system and as the payment method is electronic, library staff does not need to handle payments or deposit money in the bank.”
— International Professors Project (@iProfessorsProj) August 6, 2017
There is a number of libraries who have already successfully implemented some kind of automated technology. For example, the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library in Chicago has an automated storage and a retrieval system housed in a large underground space.Robots are a great way to get people’s attention and raise their interest in technology and most importantly in the library. Click To Tweet
Another great example is Connecticut’s Westport Library, which recently acquired two robots, Vincent and Nancy, that will be used to help teach coding and computer-programming skills. Yes, it is a whole new level of social interaction, but it’s a very good way to get people’s attention and raise their interest in technology and most importantly in the library.
10. Kinetic bikes in the library
Want to add more innovative and unique services to your library? Offer users the opportunity to charge their phones, and exercise while using the library.Offer users the opportunity to charge their phones, and exercise while using the #library. Click To Tweet
Libraries in Essex Libraries may have found the answer by installing Kinetic bikes in their libraries. These clever bikes charge your phone while you work or download an eBook to your device. There’s another example here from Warwick University who have installed four of these pedal-powered chargers in their library.
— Essex County Council (@Essex_CC) November 15, 2016
11. Single sign on to resources
Single Sign On allows customers to sign into all the valuable electronic resources with just one sign in. Developed in partnership between Jisc, Libraries Connected (formerly SCL) and all the major UK Library software companies. Single Sign On gives fast and secure access to all the amazing content libraries purchase for their customers and you won’t find on the internet.
Bournemouth Libraries in England was the first library in the country to pilot Single Sign On giving their customers access to a digital library of reference information, newspapers, homework information and more. This video from Libraries Connected explains more.
12. Streaming services
With a decline in DVD loans and the popularity of streaming TV and film, streaming for library customers is already a reality and one that may well become common in the years to come. West Vancouver Libraries are offering customers access to Netflix and State Library of Queensland offers free access to 30,000 films through the streaming service Kanopy. Library members can stream ten films or episodes per month.#With a decline in DVD loans and the popularity of streaming TV and film, streaming for #library customers is already a reality and one that may well become common in years to come Click To Tweet
This has been just a glimpse of some of the fantastic digital projects going on around the world. Libraries have always been about sharing knowledge, culture and skills and these new digital services are just one way of engaging with customers and providing them with services to help them and make their lives easier.
Want more insights from libraries across the world ? Stay tuned for our weekly posts and read the latest developments in libraries from around the world. Find us on Facebook and Twitter and sign up to our blog to receive new library insights directly to your e-mail.
Independent consultant for libraries
John Garland is a librarian with over 15 years’ experience in public libraries and worked with Libraries Connected to design Single Sign On. He is an independent consultant for libraries helping them develop their digital strategies and works with Jisc on the Single Sign On project. You can learn more about Single Sign On at http://www.librariesconnected.org.uk/page/single-sign or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. and contact him direct at johngarland.org
There are over 65,000 public libraries in the EU, and over 100 million people visit them every year. These numbers always feature [...]