August 8th, 2012 Brian Herzog
My brother sent me this photo, from the August 3, 2012, Police Blotter in the Sandusky Register:
I know this isn't an earth-shattering achievement, and that most libraries routinely do this with lost cards, but yay for it being in the paper and yay for it working out in the end.
July 25th, 2012 Brian Herzog
Earlier this summer, my coworker Tommy got the idea for a library art project: mail a letter to 200+ libraries across the country, asking them to send him one of their library cards.
He enclosed a return envelope, and most of them responded! For the next few weeks, Tommy's envelopes, with new library cards enclosed, poured into the library from all over the country. It was fun to see the variety and creativity of library cards.
Tommy's project was dependent on how many library cards he received. In the end, the number he got fit more or less perfectly on one of the coffee tables in the library, so he got permission to arrange them on a table and cover them with a protective epoxy. It looks great in the library, and the plan is to leave it in the library permanently. Tom also put up a sign on the table explaining what he did - the table is very eye-catching, and has already proved popular with staff and patrons.
Here's the top of the table - click to see a bigger image:
Nice work Tom - and thanks to all the library who participated.
April 14th, 2011 Brian Herzog
So far, I've been pretty happy to see all the positive activities and promotion around National Library Week. Yesterday, my library participated in National Library Snapshot Day, and our patrons, if not enjoyed it, at least tolerated us taking their pictures.
But because I'm me, I wanted to continue with my theme of looking at snapshots of libraries that aren't generated by the library world. I spotted the clip below - prominently and deliberately displaying a library card - in last week's episode of American Dad!:
I don't think that one will be showing up in the How The World Sees Us column, but it is nonetheless a reality we contend with while promoting our storytimes and downloadable ebooks. Not at all a reason to stop - just to work harder.
February 8th, 2011 Brian Herzog
Something I really like about smartphones are apps like CardStar and Key Ring - they let you input the numbers from all the club and rewards cards from your keychain and display the barcode on your phone.
Patrons also use these apps for their library card numbers, and some libraries aren't sure how to handle the library-card-on-smartphone situation. It hasn't really come up in my library, but I know our traditional scanners won't read barcodes off a smartphone screen. So, I thought I'd do some research to find out what it would take to accommodate these patrons.
The reason it doesn't work is because traditional barcode scanners are designed to read laser light reflected off a solid surface. Smartphone screens are emitting light, so an entirely different technology is needed.
The scanners that can read barcodes on smartphones are called CCD scanners (what that stands for is less important than a short description or a compare/contrast between CCD and traditional laser scanners).
After learning this, I started looking around at the different models and costs of CCD scanners. I stumbled across a Quora post mentioning a company called FaceCash* which sells scanners for $30. That's cheap enough for experimentation, so I contacted Aaron Greenspan (FaceCash founder) and bought one.
And it worked. I plugged it into a computer's USB port, held it up to an iPhone with a library card displayed on it, and Beep, the scanner read it just like it should. I'm always shocked when tech things work right out of the box. And happily, the scanner also reads** regular barcodes too.
So now, for just $30, my library can accommodate those patrons who make their lives easier*** through mobile technology.
Recent studies show this is fast becoming the standard in the business world - especially airlines. So the only question is whether or not libraries are willing to honor "virtual" library cards.
I don't see why not. It doesn't seem like fraud would be any more of an issue with this than with regular library cards. When we sign up a patron for a new library card, we give them a wallet card and a keychain card - so already there is more than one copy of the card in existence, which means more than one person could be using it. Since we don't make people show a picture ID when they present their library card, people could already be using someone else's card and we'd never know. Besides, if it's good enough for the TSA and airline security, I think we can manage.
But best of all, accepting these means that it's easier for patrons to bring their library card with them to the library. This is both better customer service and will save staff time in not having to look patrons up. Now that I have this scanner, I just have to wait for a patron to come in who needs it - what a strange feeling to be ahead of the curve.
*FaceCash is a new way to pay for things - you add money to your FaceCash account, and install the FaceCash app on your phone. Then when you're in a store or restaurant that accepts FaceCash, the app displays your account barcode for the business to scan, and also a picture of your face, so the clerk can verify that you are actually you. With more and more personal data being stored in phones, the visual verification is a great idea. If my library charged fines, I'd want to sign up us to accept FaceCash.
**One limitation of CCD scanners is their short range - just a couple inches, compared to 8-10" range of traditional scanners. Plus, the scanner I bought is trigger-operated, rather than motion-operated like our existing scanners. So, even though it can read both physical and digital barcodes, I don't think we'll swap out what we've got for it, but instead just plug it in and use it when a smartphone patron comes to the desk.
***I like just about anything that reduces waste and clutter. These apps let you store useful information easily, instead of lugging around a whole deck of various cards, and that makes life better. Read a few more tips to simplify your wallet, so you don't end up like George:
Tags: barcode, card, device, devices, libraries, Library, mobile, phone, phones, public, scan, scanner, scanning, smartphone, smartphones
April 10th, 2008 Brian Herzog
Inspired by the kid who collected 3000+ library cards, I thought I'd put up all of my library cards, too.
Unlike his collection, though, these cards were all issued to me because I either lived or worked in the towns where these libraries are located. I didn't get them to build a collection - I just always use the library where I live.
Even just with this small collection, it's interesting to see the variety in designs. This gave me the idea to create a Library Cards flickr group - how about showing off your library card?