Libraries have become more technology based in recent years. By joining social media or creating algorithms to help patrons find titles they might be interested in, libraries have come a long way from where they used to be. But what could libraries do to make the process easier for everyone? What could they do to increase foot traffic? The answer is technology. This could refer to any type, from Artificial Intelligence to increasing their online presence. With approximately fifty-nine percent of the world online, it would make sense to start that Facebook or Instagram page and post as often as they can (Clement, 2020).
Companies like Amazon, Google and Netflix based their online services off of recommendations. “Product recommendations count for up to thirty-one percent of eCommerce revenues…(Serrano, 2020)”. So how would adding product recommendations to a library help? I want to say books that are sometimes overlooked may have a chance to be read more. Take the Harry Potter series for instance. Let’s say I’m looking for the fourth novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (probably my second favorite). An Artificial Intelligence algorithm would provide recommendations based on the type of novel (fiction), the date the book was published (July 2000), the author and a few other categories. The algorithm would provide recommendations for all of these categories. Michael Bhaskar says it best; “Search, for example, tells us what we want to know, but can’t help if we don’t already know what we want (Bhaskar, 2016)”. I can’t say I agree with the second half of this statement, because recommendations through algorithms will help patrons choose books that may never have been heard of, nevertheless.
Implementing technology in libraries could come at a cost though. A prior student of Professor Stephens asked a pressing question regarding her public library job, “When people are asking for help so their basic needs can be met, how do we balance that with emerging technologies? (Stephens, 2017)”. In my personal experience working in the technology field, I have had customers and partners approach me and ask similar questions. I always answer with “Oh, let me see what I can do”, then frantically try to find a solution that fits their Business needs. As Stephens mentions in his article, do you dedicate some of the budget to buy the latest and greatest technology? Thanks to social media, price no longer plays an important role when attempting to simply increase foot traffic or advertise the latest release of Stephanie Meyer’s new title Midnight Sun. The New York Public Library uses the Instagram application to engage with their patrons, show off their surroundings and collections, publicize events, show what happens behind the scenes along with their history (Williams, 2014). Using social media and free online tools can help libraries reach out to their patrons and supporters. This is a way to connect on a personal level.
If there is one thing we as humans have learned through these difficult times with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that staying together, through online technologies is the most important thing. It has helped most businesses, libraries and restaurants stay afloat. So what could libraries do to help us all stay connected? The answer is still technology along with communicating with everyone possible. That helps us know that our libraries will always be there for us.
Bhaskar, M. (2016, September 30). In the age of the algorithm, the human gatekeeper is back. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/30/age-of-algorithm-human-gatekeeper
Clement, J. (2020, July 24). Digital users worldwide 2020. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/
Serrano, S. (2020, September 07). Personalized Product Recommendation Tips and Stats. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.barilliance.com/personalized-product-recommendations-stats/
Stephens, M. (2017, April 20). Libraries in Balance: Office Hours. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.libraryjournal.com/?detailStory=libraries-in-balance-office-hours
Williams, S. (2014, April 17). Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/04/16/five-ways-libraries-are-using-instagram/