Writing this blog post has been on my to-do list for almost a month! It’s not that I haven’t had time, it’s just I’ve been doing a lot of research into two brilliant ideas I encountered at this mini-conference.

So lets start this properly! On the 18th of March I attended a Mini Conference hosted by the Public Libraries Victoria Network and the State Library of Victoria called Renew, Rethink, Revitalise.

As the title suggests the conference was a chance for various Public Libraries in Victoria to demonstrate how they have renewed, rethought and revitalised their programs and services. Many libraries talked about  technological solutions or integrating e-resources into well known library programs. The presentations on creating (or revitalising) library space had me contemplating how I would design a library and what services I considered vital enough to be given floor space… like multi-purpose meeting rooms for programs, fiction books, computers, desks for study and desks with USB ports/power points. But I digress, the two ideas I want to discuss are Near Field Communication (NFC) and Databases.

I was surprised to hear most librarians at the conference had at least heard of NFC and were already relating it to the lack-lustre results of QR codes. But as I listened to Moonee Valley present how they use NFC technology in their library, I thought this is much better!

See we already trust NFC in our everyday lives, through paypass in our Debit or Credit cards. It is seamless technology, that once set up, only requires one step to use. Most Microsoft and Android phones already have NFC capabilities (hopefully Apple will join the party soon) and there are quite a few other ways NFC can be and is being used in daily life.

  • Opening doors. BMW has NFC-enabled car keys.
  • Companies and universities are looking into or rolling out using NFC-enabled devices as security badges. To gain physical access somewhere, members need only tap their smartphones at the door.
  • Downloading information. Advertisers and marketers can use NFC chips in porters and other promotional materials so all you have to do to get more information is tap or wave your phone (easier than QR codes, perhaps).
  • With programmable tags you can buy, you can tap your phone to a sticker (on your desk, wall, car, or wherever) to automatically change the settings, such as volume or Wi-Fi network, open an app, pair Bluetooth devices, and more. For example, you could switch to car mode when you get into your car, turn on the alarm app when you tap your night stand, turn off the ringer when you get to your desk.

These ideas are great, but lets look at how the New York Public Library has employed the technology.

I bet your now starting to get wonderful ideas about NFC in libraries, yes?

The idea Moonee Valley mentioned, which I just adore, is creating a “shopping wall” of books. Have a wall display showing the latest fiction or favourite kids stories.  Behind each front cover image on the wall have NFC stickers programmed to send your patrons straight to that book on the online catalogue when they wave their phone over it. Or create an events wall! Instead of sending patrons to books, enable the technology to automatically sign them up to the event they waved their phone over along with an email reminder a day before the event.

To play around with NFC technology for personal use visit the Google Play store and download Trigger.

Now remeber I mentioned there were two ideas I really loved? The second one has everything to do with databases and teaching kids how to effectively research.  Eastern Regional Libraries (ERL) has started a Library Database School Program where they promote to schools and teachers, in ERL areas, the benefits for students in using the databases they have available.

What ERL have started is close to home for me, not only as a student studying librarianship but as a mother as well. I have come to realise these days not every primary school even has a librarian. So at a very early age our children can miss out on learning research techniques, the ability to identify sources of authoritative information, improving their reading and general digital literacy. These are important skills to have and skills most people continue to use way into their adult lives!

I am thankful to Rowanne and the digital outreach team who help her bring this program to schools. I hope they continue their efforts for many years.

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)

Additional Reading:
What is NFC and How Can I Use It?
International Computer and Information Literacy Study