We've written about libraries tagging books to connect patrons to more information – and the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library was already one step ahead of us. The library, in the southwestern corner of Indiana, serves about 179,000 people through its eight locations. Library Webmaster Josh Weiland and Community Relations & Development Officer Amy Mangold were kind enough to answer some of my questions via email.
Tag: Tell me a little bit about the library – are you fairly tech-savvy?
Mangold: In 2010, we logged over 1.8 million visits and nearly 580,000 computer sessions (PC and wireless). We offer public access computers and wired or wireless access at every location, including a Computer Tech Center at our Central Library. We have partnered with both OverDrive and Library Ideas to make free downloadable eBooks, audiobooks, and music available to our customers ... We also offer one-on-one support if a customer has technical issues in downloading electronic materials to devices such as eReaders, smartphones, iPads/iPods, or others.
Tag: So how did you hear about Tag? Or where did you first see one?
Mangold: I first heard about Tag via a colleague’s business card. Once I downloaded the application, I could scan the Tag and the individual’s contact information was sent straight into my address book. Great convenience!
Tag: It sounds like you’re using Tags in the online library catalog to help people find the physical books – is this correct? Anywhere else you’re using Tags?
Weiland: Yes. When a customer locates an item in the Classic Catalog, scanning its Tag will display the item’s details on their mobile device. They can then take this info with them to locate the item on the shelf or to ask assistance from library staff. We’ve posted an informational page about this at www.evpl.org/tag. This is currently the only implementation of Tags at the EVPL.
Tag: Why did you decide to use Tag versus other barcode options?
Weiland: We chose Microsoft Tags because they’re easier to scan than standard QR codes, the API easily integrates into our existing ASP.NET website, and the built-in analytics help us track usage.
Tag: What kind of results are you getting so far?
Weiland: We’ve only had this functionality available for three weeks, so it’s still a bit early to tell. As of now, we’re getting about 5 to 10 scans per day. In the past three weeks, we’ve generated Tags for nearly 20,000 unique items.
Tag: How have library patrons responded to Tag – have you gotten any feedback?
Weiland: Most of the feedback I’ve received has been from library staff. They like having easy access to an item’s info when heading to the shelves, without having to write down the info or print out an entire page.
Tag: Any future plans to use Tag?
Weiland: In the future, we’re planning on using them for event publicity. Customers will scan a Tag from a printed poster or brochure and see the event’s complete info on their mobile device.
Pretty nifty. Do you want your library to incorporate Tags – or is it already? Are there other ways libraries could take advantage of Tags? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.