What new technologies are libraries currently exploring to engage users?

That was the question a colleague asked me the other day who was moving towards a new build library and was keen to kit out their library with the latest tech.  Interestingly, when I canvassed library staff across the region to find out what they were using they also wanted to find out what tech everyone else was exploring.

Here’s a sample of some of the responses I received from library staff and a few ideas on how the technology can be used to improve the library service:

  • e-Readers are becoming increasingly of interest to libraries but there’s still some debate over there level of accessibility and which model to go for.  My colleague, Chrissie Turkington, has blogged on the issues for library staff which is available here.   Many librarians are also eagerly awaiting the imminent launch of the i-pad in the UK (28th May 2010)  to see what it has to offer.  Watch this space…
  • Bluetooth proximity marketing is being explored by some libraries as a way of communicating  with users by sending adverts, promotions and general information about resources.
  • Voting software, especially Optivote and Qwizdom, are popular amongst students and staff at some libraries.  They are typically used as a fun assessment activity in inductions / information skills and/or staff development sessions.
  • Some FE and Public libraries have made use of the Nintendo Wii at set events for staff development and to enhance student engagement in ‘social learning areas’ in the library.  Further examples of using the Wii are available here.
  • Staff and students are using Vado cameras in one library.  These can be used for recording learner feedback on the library services or by learners who might need to produce audio-visual evidence for their coursework.
  • Regent College in Leicester are using Nintendo DS’s with educational games at certain times of the year to occupy learners and minimise disruption in the library.  The case study is available here.  Plus more and more authors are making their books available on the DSi.

(Image available under the Creative Commons licence on Flickr available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/juanpol/31420100/)

  • One Sixth Form library has experimented with the i-pod Touch to deliver library inductions.  This case study can be viewed on Mole TV here.
  • Exeter College are using digital photo frames on the library counter to promote different resources and services (e.g. eBooks).
  • A number of libraries operate a loan scheme for the Asus EEE mini computers so that when IT Suites are fully booked library staff still have the capacity to offer students internet access (or to work on their assignments, etc).
  • Bradford College has introduced RFID (radio-frequency identification) in the library to empower learners to control their own lending.  It has provided many organisational benefits, including enhanced security and stock control.  More importantly though, RFID has enabled staff to support learners in a more effective way.  This case study can be viewed on the Excellence Gateway here.   This option is clearly a longer term project though and requires more planning compared to the smaller kit options above.

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I hope it has provided a few new things for you to try out at your library and if there’s something I’ve missed feel free to let me know byadding a comment below.
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One Response to What new technologies are libraries currently exploring to engage users?

  1. Gareth Williams says:

    Some great ideas here. Thinking of building a ‘new build’ library in Second Life. Will try to include as many of the Tech mentioned, as possible.

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