I was originally going to write this post about Libby, the Overdrive Library app that I use daily to browse what’s at my library and listen to audiobooks. Then, I read about beacons and immediately had to learn more. Since the article in our module was from 2014, I wanted to see if this technology had grown or disappeared in terms of library use. I was thrilled to see that an SJSU MLIS student, Kristen Rasczyk, had made a presentation about beacon tech in libraries in 2017! She highlighted a few libraries that were using beacons at the time she made the presentation.
The Orange County Library System in Florida uses beacons to alert patrons of new DVD releases and upcoming computer classes. The Mount Pleasant Public Library in New York uses them to send personalized messages to patrons regarding their account when they go near the circulation desk, such as when their holds are ready for pick up or due date reminders. The Delft University of Technology Library in the Netherlands uses the technology to create a self-paced, self-guided tour of their building and 61% of students downloaded the app during the first semester it was available.
Beaconstac, a beacon marketing company, has an interesting blog post from 2017 which highlights some ways that libraries can use beacons. Some items include locating items from a patron’s favorite list when they walk into the library, giving digital access to a manuscript or other item that is under glass so that it can be zoomed into and read in more detail (I particularly like this idea), and alerting the patron to any events that are happening in the library that day.
However, as with any new technology that appears in our lives, privacy is a concern. The Association of College & Research Libraries has an article written by Emerging Technologies and Research Librarian at Harvard School Library, Carli Spini. The article, “Keeping up with… Beacons” notes that beacons have drawbacks because of privacy concerns. The beacons only transmit information and don’t collect any, but “they can trigger applications that do collect information.” She notes that the solution to this is being clear about what information is collected when asking people to download an app that makes use of beacons, and allowing people to opt-out of the service so that if they have concerns, they wouldn’t be using the beacons. Security is also an issue, as they can be spoofed by unauthorized people relatively easily, but since most uses of beacon tech don’t transmit private information, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
I feel like if I had heard about beacons back in 2014, I would have expected them to be a lot more integrated with places like libraries by now, five years later. I know beacons are definitely being used in retail spaces (My Joann app gives me a coupon when I walk in the door) but it seems like academic and library spaces could really utilize the technology effectively as well.
A friend recently told me about a library in the Bay Area where she
worked that did a summer lunch program for kids that integrated science
projects to make it more fun and encourage the kids to stick around.
This immediately piqued my interest and made me think of this project because as a child, I often utilized summer lunch programs. I really appreciated the lunches and loved them, but it would have been so much nicer if they were hosted at my local library.
Therefore, the goal of this service would be to encourage kids to come into the library for lunch, but also to stick around for specifically designed programs for learning or entertainment.
Since there are some summer lunch programs already available in Eureka,
I propose that the Eureka Library fill in the gaps from these programs and
consider providing lunch on the weekends.
Children still need to eat during the weekend, whether school is in
session or not, so it could be even more of a contribution to the community if
the library lunch program is weekends only.
Description of Community you wish to engage:
The community that I wish to engage are children and teens from the age of 2-18 who are in need of meals in the Humboldt County, California area. Specifically, any in Eureka, California since that will be the library starting this program, but since all of the cities are quite close in Humboldt, any child who is able to attend is welcome.
Action Brief Statement:
For the Library Director/Library staff: Convince the Humboldt County Library Director that by providing lunch services for kids in need they will encourage more community participation which will help grow the community’s knowledge of our library because more children and their parents will be coming to the library for lunch and other activities.
For parents: Convince parents that by bringing their children in for free lunches they will help their children’s minds and body grow which will help them focus better and get through the summer because they won’t be worried about being hungry for one meal out of the day.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service:
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or
It’s important to make sure that each staff member feels that they have a voice in the program and to involve those who the program will directly impact in the making of policies. As the “Lunch at the Library” website states, “Although summer meal programs provide lunches for children and teens, Lunch at the Library should not be seen exclusively as a youth services project; the program engages families with the library and is a project for the entire branch or library. It can be a good idea for support staff, branch managers, or administrative staff to lead the project if they are less busy during the summer than frontline youth services staff.”
Some guidelines that are important include the age limit and that the
parents shouldn’t have to worry about filling out paperwork or proving
eligibility. If their child is within
the age range, they are welcome to join the library for lunch. That way, the parents don’t feel that it’s a hassle
or will take too much time for them to attend.
They can just show up!
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service:
The first thing that would need to happen once it is decided to
begin a meal service would be to find a meal sponsor. Food is needed each day that lunch is
provided, and there are specific guidelines that need to be met in order to be
a healthy, rounded lunch. The Food for People
food bank for Humboldt County would be the first place to approach, as they are
in charge of the volunteers and work with donors who provide funds and food for
their summer lunch programs. It would be
ideal if they could work together with the library to bring this program to
In addition to this, there are two groups in Humboldt County which were
created specifically to help raise funds and enhance the programs and services
available to the Humboldt County Public Libraries. One is Humboldt Library Foundation, and the
other is Friends of the Redwood Libraries.
It would be crucial to set up a meeting with each of these groups and
discuss what can be done to help make this program a reality.
If unable to find any local help, the Lunch at the Library organization
has an application on their website for applying for grant funds to start,
support, or expand library lunches. In
addition to this, the USDA also has grants that are available for this purpose:
Action Steps & Timeline:
Once a meal sponsor is found, the library will need to decide what hours and which space would be best for the program. There is a large room right next to the entrance of the library which is often used for storytime that would be perfect for this.
If it is decided that it needs to be a room that already has tables and seats set up, however, it might be necessary to utilize one of the larger rooms available in the library that already have a number of tables that wouldn’t need to be used.
It may be possible to do a practice lunch, to see how things go and get
feedback from the community, as well as spread the word about the program.
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service:
Volunteers who already have worked at summer lunch programs would be
ideal, especially since this proposal looks at providing meals to fill the gaps
that those other programs leave. The
library could reach out to the Food for People organization in Eureka and ask
them if they know people who would be willing to volunteer. We would need people who put together the
lunches and deliver the lunches to the library, as well as help hand out the
lunches to the children.
Depending on what type of activity the
library decides to do after each lunch (or before, whichever is decided upon),
as few as two library staff members may be needed to lead the children in
Training for this Technology or Service:
Luckily, there is already a lot of training material available in order to make incorporating this program into our library a lot easier. Lunch at the Library has an hour-long webinar, as well as several PowerPoint presentations on several topics to be used to train volunteers and staff members. These topics include how to get started, partnerships, creating an inviting space, programming, recruiting and working with volunteers, and evaluating the program.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service:
The Humboldt Library system already has a pretty decent following on Facebook and they often post their events and ongoing programs there, so that would be a perfect place to start promoting the lunches. Flyers can also be posted in the children and young adult reading areas, and on the bulletin board by the entrance to the library.
Within the organization, it can be promoted during staff meetings and on staff bulletin boards with detailed flyers of information, as well as sending out an email to all staff with the information so that as many types of outreach are utilized as possible.
It’s important that we do all we can to make sure that the families that
utilize the service know that they can depend on the library for help and
resources, as well as helping them to feel safe, happy, and healthy with the
lunches. To find out if we are reaching
this goal, we can hand out anonymous, optional surveys for the parents to fill
These surveys would ask questions regarding ages and number of children,
how they feel about the meals, what they like about the library, and if they
are enjoying/have any suggestions for the after-lunch activities being
provided. It’s important to collect
feedback in order to help improve the program and ensure that it is fulfilling
If successful, the service could be expanded to all of the Humboldt County Libraries, in addition to considering teaming up with other summer lunch programs to park the library’s book bus where lunches are taking place. That way, we would still be able to reach out to the children getting essential help while providing them with the love of the library.
“Lunch at the Library.” Lunchatthelibrary.Org, 2019, lunchatthelibrary.org/.
“Home | Food for People.” Foodforpeople.Org, 2019, www.foodforpeople.org/.
“American Libraries Magazine.” American Libraries Magazine, 4 Sept. 2018, americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/09/04/movable-feast-library-mobile-kitchens/.
Rebecca Fishman Lipsey. “100 Great Ideas for the Future of Libraries — A New Paradigm for Civic Engagement.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 29 Jan. 2015, www.huffpost.com/entry/100-great-ideas-for-the-for-the-future-of-libraries_b_6551440.
“California Summer Meal Coalition – Institute for Local Government.” Institute for Local Government, 15 Sept. 2015, www.ca-ilg.org/california-summer-meal-coalition.
I skimmed through all of the links for this module’s “Choose your own Adventure” choices, and really quickly got stuck on one about Hunt Library’s bookBot. I found myself down a rabbit hole of videos and articles about the book delivery system, which led me to even more articles and videos about the expansiveness and usefulness of the Hunt Library itself. It’s absolutely mindblowing to me that someone could think of such a sophisticated system where books are stored not on shelves, but in climate-controlled bins where the bookBot will retrieve or deposit what’s needed. Within minutes of a request, a person can get the book they want to check out while watching the bookBot at work through a viewing wall!
Obviously, the bookBot is what drew me to learn more about the library, but I immediately began to wonder how the expanded study and learning spaces affected the library setting, and if the students felt much more likely to visit the library to study instead of their dorm or elsewhere. In order to encourage students to use the library, there are a number of different spaces and rooms that can be used in a variety of different ways. These include:
Creativity Studio—a flexible, “white box” space that can be reconfigured and transformed to support a variety of activities in many disciplines, with high-definition, 3D-capable projectors; movable and writable walls; a full theater lighting kit; and many interactive tools that can be configured for simulations and virtual environments.
Teaching and Visualization Lab—a “black box” for high-definition visualization and simulation, offering seamless 270-degree immersive projection on three walls for a total of 80 linear feet of display surface, 3D display, a professional zoned audio system, and cameras for real-time video capture, broadcast, and collaboration.
Game Lab—supports the scholarly study of games at the university, where students can also take a break and play for fun. With multiple video gaming stations and a large display, this is one of the Hunt Library’s liveliest spaces.
iPearl Immersion Theater—a 21 x 7-foot curved display wall that engages viewers in panoramic imagery and showcases the work of students and faculty.
Video Seminar Room—features a telepresence video collaboration suite to facilitate meeting with others anywhere in the world.
Fishbowl—a seminar room uniquely designed to promote the open exchange of ideas. It offers a multi-touch display and transparent walls that allow others to experience the activities taking place inside.
Faculty Research Commons—a comfortably furnished space for faculty to engage in both individual and collaborative work, and to connect with colleagues from other departments and disciplines.
Graduate Student Commons—designed specifically for graduate students, with lounge seating, open study spaces, group study rooms, computer workstations, and lockers.
Makerspace—create working prototypes, architectural models, and other objects with tools including 3D printers, a 3D scanner, and a laser cutter. “If you can draw it, you can make it!”
Skyline Reading Room and Terrace—the pinnacle of the Hunt Library, at the highest point on campus, with inspiring views and abundant natural light.
One thing that seems to help students, in addition to the different spaces available, are the different chairs and seats available to sit in. Each person and whatever they’re working on can possibly be done even better in a specific posture, and so the library makes the space even more personalized by giving students so many options to choose from.
Okay, so what do all of these things have to do with the hyperlinked library? Of course, there are the obvious points: the many ways that technology is integrated into the library, including how the books are stored and retrieved. But there are so many things that other libraries can learn from the Hunt Library, from large to small in terms of changes made. Different styles of seating could be brought in, instead of every single chair being the exact same. Different table heights, each room having a different function that could be utilized in different ways. Not many libraries would be able to afford to incorporate the bookBot, but imagine if they could, and the amount of space they would have to fit their own personalized community’s needs even more!
Something that I wonder, though, is even with all of this technology and the innovativeness of the space — is the Hunt library going to continue to change every decade or so, or as needed, to stay on top of the technology game? Are they going to help lead libraries into the future? How long until the technology they utilize in rooms such as the Fishbowl is outdated? If technology continues to move as quickly as it has in the past few decades, who knows what could happen. What I do know, though, is there will always be libraries that continue to stay innovative, because librarians will refuse to let libraries become useless.