Libraries & Smartphones: 3 Simple Ways to Ring in Patrons

In our increasingly digitizing world, libraries everywhere are embracing creative solutions to stave off the looming irrelevance they’ve been fated with. 

There’s no denying that in recent years libraries have been hit hard with dips in visitation numbers and funding, but as libraries tirelessly toil to transform their libraries into high-value resource centers, it’s not naively optimistic to say that the future of the library is bright.

With our smartphones by our sides, we’re always connected to the web. According to the International Telecommunications Union, there are nearly a billion smartphones in use (accounting for roughly one-fifth of all mobile phones). Libraries can benefit from this constant connectedness. It’s a great way to reach out to patrons, and a great way to extend library services.

Through the use of QR codes, SMS notifications, and digital databases, you can ring in patrons through their smartphones. Here are some examples of what other libraries have done.

QR Codes

qr-codeQR Codes (short for quick response code) is a matrix barcode actually first invented for the automotive industry in the early-90s to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. Nowadays, they’re used everywhere by everyone as a fast way to direct traffic to websites. With a smartphone, you can scan a QR code to navigate to the website link programmed inside the code. They’re immensely popular: according to Microsoft Tag, more than 14 million adults in the United States used QR codes in June of 2011.

Libraries are using QR codes as a quick way to link to webpages with book reviews and recommended reading lists. Flyers and tent cards with QR codes propped up near new and popular book releases is a great supplement to your product presentation.

To create your own QR codes, visit

SMS Notifications

Messages-IconLibraries have begun to use text messaging as a preferred method of communication with patrons. It’s an easy and relatively inexpensive way to let patrons know of upcoming due dates, and when reserved materials are ready to be picked up. Text-a-librarian services have also been propping up around the world – patrons can text their librarians about a number of subjects!

To set up the delivery of SMS notifications, and for more information about it, visit the following webpages.

Accessible Digital Resources

newspaper-in-deviceMany believe that digital resources are the future. And given the way (and speed) technology is moving, such a belief isn’t a farfetched one. Patrons are increasingly favoring digital resources such as e-books and products like Library PressDisplay – the world’s largest digital newsstand that gives library patrons access to more than 2,300 full-content newspaper and magazines from 97 countries and in 54 languages.

Library PressDisplay is a feature in more than 7,000 libraries worldwide, and it supports a variety of authentication types including barcode, EZ Proxy and VPN. This means that library patrons can access the catalogue of newspapers and magazines outside of the physical library – at home and even on the go with their smartphones.

For more information on Library PressDisplay, click here.

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