A key assumption can be made that the Dewey Public Library, like many public libraries wishes to remain current with technology trends. Many public libraries also want to encourage or increase new library visitors in both the physical and online spaces. Based on information gathered it can be assumed that because the Dewey public library has two locations a short distance from each other, they would want the same service at either location. The library staff feel they are not particularly strong in information technology and have limited experience with information technology. The staff have stated that they have five computers each location. These are over three years old and are used by library patrons for web searching. The Dewey does not have a website. They use the Koha catalogue platform to provide access to the library’s collection. Each year the library is visited by 23,000 visitors across both locations. They have meeting spaces open for patron use, and spaces to browse the web or sit and read. They also have Storytime for children in these spaces and organise classes. Based on this information we would suggest a product and services that enhance the Dewey Library's strengths.
This section of the consultancy report will go over particular aspects of augmented reality products and provide evidence to support its recommendation. The recommendation is also supported by the evidence and ideas put forward in other sections of this report. The needs of the Dewey public library and its users are paramount in informing the recommendations.
The use of mobile devices like Smart phones and tablets has developed in recent years in terms of both capabilities and effectiveness. Most applications of Augmented Reality within libraries use mobile devices like smart phones and tablets to view the augmented environment. Other available options include wearable technology like Google Glass or HoloLens. The reason why mobile devices are chosen over these other forms are cost and convenience, as most library patrons already own a mobile device. Many libraries find that integration of mobile based technology has increased visitor numbers and allowed more people to access library services through their own device. The mobile apps can interface with the library’s catalogue. The users are able to check out the item entirely by using apps. In cases where users do not own a device the library loans a device to a user.
Wayfinding is among the first applications of augmented reality technology to the library environment. The service aims to guide the user to the location of their selected item. Wayfinding applications superimpose a digital image, such as a line or arrow, on the physical environment. A wayfinding application may use a variety of physical and digital markers, signs and floor plans to orient itself. The activation points can include the use of posters that have markers within them or the use of low energy Bluetooth emitters. Wayfinding technology can reduce frustration for users getting lost in a library and lead them directly to their desired location. It also allows for the user to independently locate items which frees up library staff for other tasks. Independence and wayfinding provide ease of access to the individual user and therefore providing a more enjoyable experience. Wayfinding provides excellent support in accessing physical media such as books and other items, providing strength to libraries that have large borrowing collections.
Most libraries do not make their own personal augmented reality application. They usually partner with a tech company that provides technical support and advice for the library. The initial installation of the augmented reality infrastructure in the case of wayfinding is important. It provides a solid footing and foundation for the service. This includes placing signs and beacons, and activation points around the library. This installation will include experimenting with the physical space of the library such as moving furniture and objects around and testing how that interacts with the augmented reality environment. Providing training for library staff with augmented reality technology is important because they need to have the understanding and skills to teach library users how to use it. Marketing and promotion is important as augmented reality needs to be exposed to the public in the right way to intrigue them about the possibilities and to explain its limitations. Having information about the new type of augmented reality technology in a prominent place such as a social media page or website associated with the library is a good choice. Troubleshooting is a part of the maintenance and occasional repair of augmented reality technology. The decision to have a technical expert on the library staff or employ an external company to provide maintenance and support would be beneficial for the library user experience.
We recommend the Wikitude AR platform for the Dewey Public Library. Its focus on Wayfinding technology was a deciding factor. This will strengthen Dewey Public Library’s ability to provide its users with a better item borrowing experience.
One of the reasons why we chose Wikitude is its ability to use Mobile devices and applications that Interface with catalogue to provide better search results and experience. This is advantageous for the Dewey Public Library as this product improves access to its resources such as books and other items. It exposes a larger portion of the public to what it has to offer. Wayfinding technology aids staff as it reduces the amount of time they spend guiding users to a specific location when lost. This allows staff to work more efficiently, carrying out higher level tasks. This allows the Dewey to have a more effective and efficient workforce. Wikitude feature Wayfinding takes the user to the exact location where the item is. Overall this improves the search experience and reducing user frustration. Wayfinding is particularly important to the Dewey Public Library is it reduces barriers to finding information, and guides the user to a specific location and a specific information source. The customisable nature of Wikitude helps the process of installation, training, marketing and troubleshooting to be effective for the Dewey Public Library. This access and support allows Dewey Public Library to provide a better user experience. Given these listed factors Wikitude supports and strengthens the Dewey Public Library ability to provide an excellent service to its users.