7 interesting tech based library initiatives from around the globe

Thanks to new technologies, the internet and the rise of digital media, distance and remote locations are no longer a barrier to reach communities. In this ever changing technological society, innovation is a must. Pretty much every industry has had to evolve with the times. Below are 7 institutions that have implemented pioneering library programs which will transform the way you think about libraries. It's not just a case of bringing people into the library but bringing the library and services to them. 

1. CCPL Mobile – Parma, Ohio

Making use of developing mobile technology - Cuyahoga County Public Library created a mobile app which conveniently allows users to check out items using their smart phones. The app can also be used to renew or reserve items or to find library branches and opening hours. Learn more about the app here. The library also holds what they call “technology petting zoos” to teach patrons how to use the CCPL tool along with e-readers and audio books. 

CCPL.jpgSource: Google Play

2. ASK-NYPL – New York City, USA

ASK-NYPL is a service established by the New York Public Library where a user can text, call or email questions to librarians or other staff to get help with research or to ask questions about library services. It’s ideal for busy people who don’t have time to physically come to the library. They even offer more thorough research assistance for a small fee. This program makes sense for a busy city where people are constantly on the go. They've made finding information even easier. 

3. Knowledge Centres – Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania

There are now 15 Knowledge Centres (also known as Maarifa Centres) in Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania. These centres were established by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) which is a non-governmental organisation that aims to expand IT access to rural areas of East Africa. Each centre is simply a room or fabricated shipping container. The room contains broadband internet access and research materials. Each centre has onsite staff to help educate the local residents on using the technology.

Maarifa_Centre2.jpgImage Source: Alin

4. Library-a-Go-Go – California, USA

Contra Costa Country Library is the home of a very unique library program called Library-a-Go-Go which is basically a library book vending machine. Completely automated - users simply need to swipe their library cards in the reader and select the books they want using a touch screen. Their chosen books are then dispensed from the machine. A user can borrow a maximum of 3 books at any one time. To return the books, users simply need to return them back to the kiosk that they borrowed them from. Borrowing library books honestly could not be easier!  View a slideshow of Library-a-Go-Go in action here. 

Library_a_go_go-1.jpgSource: Pauls Newsline

5. Mobile Library Programs – Veria, Greece

With a small population of just 50,000, the town of Veria Greece established a Mobile Library. As an innovator in information technology, the mobile library provides books, internet access and library resources to residents of their district and the neighbouring communities. (Approximately 130,000 people). The Mobile Library recently launched a new program called 'Magic Boxes' which is specifically aimed at supporting the educational needs of local children. Magic Boxes provides children with an internet connection and access to various digital media outlets, with the aim of teaching children technology skills.

Greece.jpgSource: Veria Central Public Library

6. Library Hotspots, Pennsylvania USA

Pennsylvania has their finger on the pulse and have recently developed a series of library hotspots throughout the community. Each comes with computers, internet access, a printer and research materials from the library. Similar to the knowledge centres in East Africa, staff members are on site to help locals. Learn more about the hotspots here. 

7. Overdrive – USA and Canada

Digital Media is certainly changing the way libraries operate today. In USA and Canada, users can download an application to their mobiles or computers and if they have a library card, they can access free digital books, videos and music. The service is facilitated through the libraries and Overdrive which is a digital rights management and digital media repository firm. 

Libraries of today recognise the importance of changing with the times and are using innovative programs to deliver solutions. No longer are they simply providing physical books but they are bringing the resources to the people in forward thinking ways. Which makes you wonder - with the advancement in technology, internet and digital media, what will library programs look like in the future?


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