The second technology I am proposing we install is about interacting with our students in order to increase our relevance in the digital age. Bluetooth Beacon Technology is new in the world of libraries, but could be be the dominant way of interacting with our students in the near future.
What is it?
Bluetooth Beacon technology is a recent development that focuses on attracting our smart-phone focused population to what’s going on in our library by planting beacons that send out a Bluetooth signal to passing phones with a particular app installed. This signal could be simple information about what’s coming up at the library or it can be integrated with our current library app to alert them to their account status and any alerts they need to receive. Claire Swedberg has written an article about the implementation of it in several libraries across America and gives a concise account of the process and technology involved.
In today’s world, we are struggling to remain relevant and in order to combat this, we have to speak to them in their own language. These days, most of our students have some form of smart phone and most have the ability to download apps. They are generally glued to their phones and spend a lot of time on campus and these Bluetooth beacons would be a good way to interact with those who are not utilising the library fully.
Matt Enis writes about the innovative ways that public libraries are using it and while their ideas are great, our organisation could use it to encourage use of our spaces, coordinate study groups and help people find appropriate resources for their studies.
I’ve attached a simple report on Bluetooth Beacon technology including an introduction to the beacons, their size, range and cost to illustrate how simple this would be for us to implement. The beacons are relatively cheap, send out one-way signals to smart phones with Bluetooth capability (over 90% of today’s smart phones) and would alert those with the relevant app – available from the app/play store. Bluetooth’s aim is to send small amounts of data to phones, meaning students wouldn’t be wasting large amounts of data and it could be easily customised to your interests/study.
The overall advantages to this new and exciting technology are huge. With growing awareness around the capability and popularity of smart phones, there are few limits to the outreach opportunities available and it seems like an exciting and relevant technology to bring to our students with very few drawbacks.