I’ve shown what iBeacons are, and what they do in non-retail settings. Can they be used in a library setting? Definitely – because some libraries are already experimenting with them!
There are currently two companies in the library industry working with iBeacons (that I know of, anyway):
What are these companies focusing on?
Bluubeam sends out location-based messaging. For example, if you walk into the teens area of the library (and have the Bluubeam app on your mobile device), you might get a message about what’s happening in the teen section that day, or get a message about an upcoming teen event.
So think location-based promotion of events and your stuff.
Capira Technologies does location-based messaging. They’re also working on more personalized info. For example, here’s what they say about circulation notices:
Patrons who have authenticated their account information in your library app can receive notifications about items due that day, items ready for pickup, and much more when they enter the building. Library staff know that patrons often visit the library and forget they have items due that day. Automatically reminding them to stop by the circulation desk and renew them before they leave is a great customer service.
What types of things could you do with iBeacons in a library? Here are some ideas:
- Event notices that are location-based
- Promotion of new library services. For example, if a customer walks by your new makerspace, they could receive a message explaining it, and maybe an “ask the librarian” prompt for more information.
- Building tours!
- Around-town tours. I’d love to see iBeacons connected to a historical walking tour, for example. This has the potential to be much better than portable headsets, and definitely better than QR codes.
- Art gallery explanations. We have an art gallery. It might work to have explanations of art pieces or more information about the current exhibit.
- Shelving notices. What’s on this shelf? Capira goes much further with this idea – “For example, if a library offered a row of shelves with New Releases, a patron could view items released that day using their device and a beacon located on the shelf.”
- Patron Assistance (again from Capira). Devices can time how long a beacon stays in range. Staff can be notified if a patron spends an excessive amount of time in a specific area or room without moving, possibly indicating they may require assistance looking for items.
- Beacon Tracking – Anonymous tracking via iBeacons can capture how library customers move around in your building, along with how much time is spent in each area. Retail stores already do this, and then move their products around to where customers gather. Something to think about!
Again – there is potentially a LOT of possibility here. What do you think? Please share!
iBeacon image by Jonathan Nalder