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Book review: libraries and the Internet of Things


Book reviews: exploring the potential of the Internet of Things in libraries

Hahn, J. The Internet of Things: mobile technology and location services in libraries. Library Technology Reports (53:1). Chicago: ALA, 2017. 28 pp. ISSN: 978 0 8389 5984 8. $43. Preview chapter:

JIM Hahn is an Illinois academic librarian specialising in prototype technologies. He is concerned that librarians face “profound” funding and service challenges as a result of fears that networked information and easily-available online resources threaten the future of print. Complex classification schemes and unwelcoming building design are, he says, further barriers to library use. For Hahn, other challenges arise from the difficulties of curating and describing big data. He claims librarians have seen technology as a saviour which has not always lived up to its promises. Hahn explores how one development, the Internet of Things (IOT), can improve life for both those running libraries and their users. IOT relates to internet-connected devices from fridges showing when food has passed its eat-by date to fitness trackers, “wearables” for remote heart-rate monitoring, apps warning ships of possible collisions and automated transport. For libraries IOT has great potential: helping assess usage, improve services (including access to content) and save staff time by alerting users to available desk, computer or book availability, monitoring and activating the humidity, temperature and lighting in rare-book collections, improving stock control, predicting future needs and even providing self-guided tours. It can also warn of equipment failures. Nevertheless, the technology raises privacy, security, ethical and staffing issues. The author considers privacy and security in the context of the Snowden revelations, offering suggestions for creating privacy policies. Much of the content is based on his own case-study of a mobile application for location-based services in a university undergraduate library. This rather limits its relevance and value and unfortunately the style is repetitive and in places hard to follow.


Contributor: Ralph Adam, Harrow
Published:  11 September 2018


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