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Touch Screens in Libraries

October 24, 2012

Pa. library system adopts touch-screen technology

I stumbled across this news article last weekend (slow news day?), but I actually thought it was pretty interesting. In particular, I noticed that they mentioned that the new system is easier (or at least as easy) to use both for technology natives and older users. It’s a good example of a library thinking about accessibility at all ages and implementing a solution that makes the library easier to use for a lot of people. (The article doesn’t mention accessibility with regard to other dimensions, such as visual impairments; hopefully they have other computers or a good system in place to address those.)

10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2012 11:39 am

    Thanks for the article. I would LOVE for my local library to have touch screen too. Coming from Miami where the library system is atrocious I am so happy when I hear of new upgrades to libraries. I was so happy when I first used the Los Angeles Public library system and it was actually user friendly and convenient.

  2. October 24, 2012 11:53 am

    Touch screens are helpful. The public library where I work has touch screen self-check out stations which are easy for everyone to use. As the article pointed out this technology is especially useful for someone with limited hand mobility, difficulty typing or children. The delight kids get out of checking out their own books by touching a few “buttons” is great to watch. It is a change we will see more of in the near future.

  3. jnetzloff permalink
    October 24, 2012 3:01 pm

    Hi Alice,
    Interesting article. I imagine the next step is to to develop an app so users can search the catalog from their own phone or tablet, and then perhaps to send a request to check it out.

    At some point in the very near future users are going to want to check out eBooks. Imagine if you could visit the library, find your book and download it to your device without actually visiting the library.

    I actually just did an app search for “library” and found a bunch of virtual tours of libraries – imagine if the apps gave me full access and let me browse the shelves and check out ecopies of the books – how cool would that be?

    • Alice Worden permalink
      October 26, 2012 10:12 am

      I like your idea (if I’m reading it correctly) of creating “virtual libraries” that visually resemble physical libraries in order to access virtual content.

      I check out e-books at my desk, in my pajamas, late at night, ALL THE TIME. I actually don’t buy e-books, because I’m not thrilled with how DRM is being treated right now, but I was perfectly comfortable investing in an e-reader knowing that it would only be used for library books, and that I would be able to check those books out at home, whenever I want. Because the closest library I have a card to is about 30 minutes away on public transit, it has absolutely been worth it.

      • October 26, 2012 12:42 pm

        Yes I get e-books a lot too, from the SFPL. But even in California not all libraries offer e-books to library users from their homes, most do but not all. And yes DRM for e-books is a tricky thing to work with for libraries.

  4. October 26, 2012 12:46 pm

    It is amazing that technology is moving so quickly! I actually have a touchscreen computer at home and, while it is not good for general use, it is ideal for quickly opening up something on the desktop while I unravel the mouse. Touchscreens are wonderful but I wonder if they purchased or rented the equipment? My first thought is about calibration and upkeep. How will they be maintained? Rather a general question but I imagine there has to be something in place as wear-and-tear occurs.

    Deanna Thompson

    • October 26, 2012 12:51 pm

      bananade, I’m thinking of ATMs after reading your comment. ATMs have touchscreens that are used a lot and they seem to hold up well.

  5. October 26, 2012 12:49 pm

    I wonder if the library will or is also making the search function voice enabled. That is can a library user say “look up kits” and the system searches the holdings for material on kits. That would be helpful for some one with out hands, there are a some people like that.

  6. October 26, 2012 2:55 pm

    Hi, we also have touch screen self-checkout machines. Seniors seem to get the hang of it pretty quickly. I think one reason is eyesight. For people that are near sighted, it is easier to see a button to push than a cursor.

  7. October 26, 2012 7:57 pm

    This is great and shows how the library is doing a pretty good job with keeping up with the new forms of technology. I remember writing a paper about rather or not the library would be able to keep up with new forms of technology in the digital age or fall behind. Its good that libraries are getting this type of technology, not only because it makes information more accessible , but also because this seems to be the direction things are going anyway with everything from phones to laptops becoming touch screen as well.

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