Somerset County breathes new life into libraries with a location-based app


Somerset County Library System of New Jersey runs a network of 10 local libraries. Apart from storing books, SCLSNJ organizes events and educational programs for children, teens, and adults. Five years ago they decided to release an app, to reach their community where they were starting to spend the most time: on mobile. Then they added beacons. And guess what: patrons are loving it!

SCLSNJ app lets users search the catalog, check the event program, and browse through their account history. Now they need just a few taps to learn all the information they need. Somerset County didn’t stop there though. The app also integrates Estimote Beacons, that so far have been installed in 10 locations to provide patrons with contextual details at just the right time and place.

One of the problems the beacons solve is people forgetting they have items due. Users can check it in the app at any time, but if you’ve forgotten you need to return a book, you’re also unlikely to remember to double-check it in the app. So now when patrons enter any of the beacon-equipped libraries, they’ll receive a notification with upcoming due dates. The app will also notify them when books are ready for pickup. Additionally, SCLSNJ has built a simple CMS with help from Capira Technologies that lets them push customized content to reach people with details about upcoming events.

Many people were pleasantly surprised by the reminder of having a book on the hold shelf. They were saying ‘wow I did not realize this is what was going to happen’. Others were excited to know what events were going on in the library that day. They all like the idea that the information was sent to them automatically. said Richard Loomis, Digital Services Manager at SCLSNJ.

To see other examples of beacons changing the face of education, read how Xplor is making Woodland Education more effective and how Punch Alert ensures campus safety.

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