Skip to content

12 innovative technologies to implement at the library of the future

12 innovative technologies to implement at the library of the future

12 innovative technologies to implement at the library of the future

“Since the main mission of most libraries is to offer equality of access to information for every citizen, then why not be a trendsetter in digital use and implement innovative technologies? As Mogens Vestergaard, Manager of Library and Citizen Service at Roskilde Libraries in Denmark emphasizes in our interview here, “it is the library’s obligation to be at the edge of different uses of culture and uses of technology”. Pin your library on the have-to-visit list of your patrons!

This article presents a range of relevant and useful innovative technologies to implement at the library. We focus on the technology’s applicability and the benefits it could bring to the library and not on the potential budgetary impacts of said technologies.

1. Big data

Along with all the technological advancements, people’s most basic activities are generating more data than ever. The storage and analysis of large datasets can be a real advantage for librarians as they have the relevant skills and knowledge to make the best use of these massive sources of information.

The storage and analysis of large #datasets can be a real advantage for #librarians as they have the relevant skills and #knowledge to make the best use of these massive sources of #information.CLICK TO TWEET

How can big data be used by libraries? Big data can improve the library’s activity overall, by simply having access to more insights into the user’s mind. In an article written on  about the use of big data in libraries, Ginny Mies emphasizes that “libraries can use core customer intelligence to better reach customers, create a better connection with the community and become more relevant and stay more flexible and adaptable to all the environment changes”. You can read the whole article here.

Furthermore, libraries can use big data to create a personalized user experience by offering content and resources based on each individual wish. But at the same time, libraries must consider the privacy issues coming with any access to personal data. For instance, for those processing personal data of EU citizens, being compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation will be necessary starting from May 2018.

2. Virtual reality

Allowing people to immerse themselves in a new universe is one of the main reasons why people enjoy reading books and accessing the libraries’ collections. You can now offer a new attractive format for the same experience. Offer the users the chance to play, learn and explore other places just by sitting in the comfort of their local library. At the same time, virtual reality can be used to bring the library closer to the users by creating virtual tours of the library or even virtual workshops and training.

Offer the users the chance to #play, #learn and #explore other places just by sitting in the comfort of the local #library. #librarytechnology #virtualreality #VRCLICK TO TWEET

Virtual reality is here to stay so why not benefit from its use and attract more users to the library? As Jill Sexton explains here in an article for American Libraries Magazine, libraries that find themselves a bit intimidated by the option of offering VR tools, “you don’t need a lot to get started, it really depends on getting these VR headsets and a couple of computers that are powerful enough to power the headsets. You don’t need to have a lot of infrastructure in place. It’s more about building partnerships and making these consumer technologies accessible to the users and the staff.”

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Geoff Cannon@geoffcannon65

3. Augmented reality

Augmented reality is a new technology and people are curious about its deployment in various domains, from medicine to gaming. So why not implement it in libraries too and combine digital with reality? In his articles on the “eBook friendly” website, Piotr Kowalczyk gives a few examples of technologies – some of them still just a concept – that could be used in the future. An interesting AR concept that he presents is of an image based augmented reality application.

Why not implement #AR in #libraries and combine #digital with #reality?CLICK TO TWEET

librARi allows users to search for books with AR interaction (see the showcase video here). The whole concept of the app is based on localizing the books on the physical space and discovering related books.

4. Artificial Intelligence

With Siri and Alexa available on everyone’s devices nowadays, artificial intelligence is no longer a futuristic perspective as it is gaining more and more traction in our everyday activities. As Kristin Whitehair stresses in an article on Public Libraries Online WebsiteWith many AI applications focused on delivering information to the user, it can appear that AI is a challenge to libraries”. But at the same time, she adds that “the intelligence is artificial, not human. Libraries can connect people to information and, more importantly, to other people”, whereas AI can’t.

Adding an intelligent side to all applications at the library is a real opportunity to understand the patterns in user behavior and adapt to their needs.


5. Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology has been one of the most discussed technologies in the past year, as Bitcoin has gained more and more power. Blockchain technology represents a decentralized database that keeps records of pseudonymized digital transactions that are visible to anyone within the network. Therefore, it is a new way to collect and store data.

Sue Alman, a teacher on emerging technologies highlights in an article for EdSurge that blockchain technology “could be used to build an enhanced metadata system for libraries, to keep track of digital-first sale rights and ownership, to connect networks of libraries and universities, or even to support community-based borrowing and skill sharing programs.”

The blockchain use in libraries can seem a futuristic approach but it a technology that should be followed as it is gaining more attention from companies all over the world.

6. Internet Of Things

As the Internet connectivity has become a necessity more than a luxury, The Internet of Things receives more and more attention. As the RFID technology, IOT refers to the possibility of connecting everyday devices and transferring data between them. But only in the case of IOT, the data is transferred over the Internet. As a recent article on American Library Association website highlights, there are many “opportunities for library applications, from tracking room usage and program attendance to monitoring humidity levels for special collections and more”. Therefore, the library can offer a better user experience by enriching its services and collections.

The #library can offer a better user experience by enriching its #services and #collections. #technology #IOT #drones #AR #AI #librariansCLICK TO TWEET

The example given in the article shows Hillsboro Public Library in Oregon who has introduced the Book-O-Mat, a self-service kiosk which is monitored from the main library to track usage and identify usage trends and make recommendations.

7. Library mobile apps

Mobile apps are a real trend right now, as people have access to their mobile devices constantly. Also, people are spending more time within mobile apps and less time within mobile browsers.  So why not connect with the patrons in a way they enjoy? A mobile app can extend the library’s services outside their physical borders and facilitate the interaction with patrons.

Mobile #library apps are a real trend right now, as people have access to their mobile devices constantly.CLICK TO TWEET

An app that offers functionalities such as a library catalogue, interactive library guides, a library virtual tour, an interactive calendar with all the library’s events, the possibility to loan and read electronic books and articles, the possibility to reserve the library’s resources or to pay for some services represent a real benefit for the patrons, facilitating their activities.

To think even further, the library can also use the mobile apps as part of a library service. Nicole Henning, a library mobile technology professional made a list of 50 ideas for creative uses of mobile apps in library services and includes ideas like app workshops, app clubs, augmented reality books, and more so check it out.

8. Self-service printing, copying, and scanning solutions

It is common knowledge that the digital era has been directly affecting home printing. People no longer need to print pages in large quantities. This is where libraries can come in handy for people who don’t want to keep a printer at home any longer.

#Libraries can come in handy for people who don’t want to keep a #printer at home any longer.CLICK TO TWEET

Princh, a Danish software company (and writer of this blog) offers a solution that was built in collaboration with the majority of Danish libraries. Patrons can walk into the library and print and pay directly from phones, laptops or the library PCs without setting up an account. (see the showcase video here to learn more). 

Bibliotek og byarkiv@tromsobibliotek

9. 3D printers

3D printing has been a highly debated topic these past years and now that 3D printers have reached a lower price point, it is much easier for people to get access to them. More and more academic libraries offer this service (a map of all libraries offering 3D printing can be found here) and its deployment is substantial across different disciplines and really popular among students.

Furthermore, a 3D printing service is attractive for other users as well; children adore crafting their own toys and adults are easily amazed by the impressive power of technology. So why not make it available for everyone and show people that libraries are a place where technology thrives?

10. Robots

There is a number of libraries who have already successfully implemented some kind of automated technology. For example, the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library in Chicago has an automated storage and a retrieval system housed in a large underground space.

A more futuristic example is Connecticut’s Westport Library, which recently acquired two robots, Vincent and Nancy, that will be used to help teach coding and computer-programming skills. Yes, it is a whole new level of social interaction, but it’s a very good way to get people’s attention and raise their interest in technology and most importantly about the library.

OCPL Central Library@OCPLCentral

The small flying devices remotely controlled are another trendsetter in science nowadays. Either by adding a new technology at the library or creating workshops for users where they can learn to build and use a drone, the libraries can benefit a lot from its use.

Furthermore, drones can be used for creating content for the library, collecting data or as Piotr mentions in his article, the drone can be used for delivery service for the library users who don’t have the possibility to go to the library; be it because of a disability, or because of the long distance to the library.

#Drones can be a good option for creating content for the #library, collecting data or for #delivery service for the #library users. #libraryinnovation #futuristiclibrariesCLICK TO TWEET

Impossible, you’d think! But the book delivery is already happening, only not in libraries. The Australian startup Flirtey has made its first demonstration of book delivery for a book rental service called Zookal. You can watch it here. The service might be too much for a library but in an era where the users want to have everything at their disposal with less effort, it might be worth giving it a thought.

12. Digital interface for printed books

A combination of digital and the real world is a development we all are impatiently waiting for, especially when we talk about physical objects. Everyone loves the ‘copy’ and ‘find’ functions of an e-book and highlighting all the important excerpts from documents.

FingerLink is a prototype developed by Fujitsu that permits to use all the digital functionalities on a printed book (see the showcase video here). It detects the users’ fingers and what it is touching and creates an interactive touchscreen where he can select the part he wants to and transpose it in a digital form, where it can be processed.


There are massive technology developments ongoing and underway and they can be great additions to the user’s experiences at the local library.

To find out more about the benefits of technology for libraries , we’ve interviewed Ida Joiner, author of the soon-to-be-released book called: Emerging Technologies in Libraries: It’s Not Just for Geeks. Stay tuned for our next blog post to read Ida’s insights!

Find us on social media via Facebook or Twitter and read the latest developments in libraries from around the world. “



Posted on: June 20, 2018, 6:08 am Category: Uncategorized

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.