Several libraries in the United States have begun deploying Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to be used with an app to reach out to patrons. Many libraries are already using RFID technology to automate the checking out and returning of books, but BLE technology offers libraries a new wireless tool.
Capturing the attention of a distractible public is a growing challenge for libraries that have historically been known as a quiet institute rich with books and media, but not much beyond that. Nowadays, people young and old, whether or not they are library users, have become increasingly focused on their smartphones, which makes them much harder to engage.
Orange Country Library,in Orlando, Fla., went live with the BluuBeam system on Nov. 1, and is building its list of patron app users as they become aware the system is available, says Debbie Moss, Orange County Library's assistant director. The challenges of trying to attract the attention of both library users and non-users, Moss explains, had drawn the library to this solution—which she says the facility bought outright at a low price. The library hopes to attract the same kinds of individuals who visit local theaters and museums, she adds, and if the BluuBeam app is used at those venues as well, it could potentially draw people who do not usually visit the library.