A recent online BBC News article has sparked a few interesting conversations here at D-Tech, where we are always looking at innovations within the library sector and how our technology, current and in development, can improve services and efficiency.
The article looks at two libraries, Woolwich and Chester, and considers what makes them popular amongst patrons. Woolwich Centre Library in south-east London saw visitor numbers grow to more than 1.2 million in 2017, bucking the national trend which has seen footfall drop by 10 million since 2016/17. So why are so many people flocking to Woolwich library? As is the case with many public libraries today, Woolwich is not just a venue to borrow books. It offers a plethora of free activities for the community ranging from mindfulness to code club for children, as well as lots of careers advice and support, including help with writing CVs, free Wi-Fi and use of IT to make applications and check emails, and access to online courses to improve skills.
Many young people are using their local libraries as social hubs and an opportunity to study away from the distractions of home life, including certain technology. It’s also of note that one in ten UK households still don’t have internet access, according to the Office of National Statistics. Many schools set homework online and have a general expectation of internet availability for their pupils, so it is important that the use of IT facilities is offered within the community.
The Storyhouse in Chester, a £37 million centre which opened in May 2017, is home to a library, two theatres, a cinema, a café and a bar. It was opened with the help of funding from Arts Council England and other sponsors. The library boasts a 50% increase in book loans since moving to the centre which had a million visitors in its first year.
Woolwich Centre Library and the Storyhouse have library kudos, and you can too! Here at D-Tech, we offer library solutions that support the modern, diverse services that libraries need to provide, and whilst we have been focusing on public libraries the premise is relevant to libraries within the education sector too. With budgets tight everywhere, it is paramount that expenditure has a good ROI and can be justified through a realistic business case.
Keeping track of your stock doesn’t just save you money, it also saves your staff from wasting time looking for items that are misplaced or misappropriated. RFID tagging is the key to many solutions which improve your processes and pay for themselves in no time. So, security is a no-brainer, particularly in a library with a high footfall, but what about self-service? Enabling your staff to provide a better service to your patrons, whether that is helping them to improve their library experience in a public library or encouraging reluctant readers in an educational setting, is quickly achieved through self-service borrowing and returns.
D-Tech thermal imaging counters are in situ in Greenwich Libraries (which includes Woolwich Central Library). Thermal counters accurately detect people by their body heat profile and can, therefore, count bidirectionally even when a number of people are passing simultaneously. The technology is non-intrusive and over 98% accurate, as few external factors (such as heat, light or inanimate objects) affect it. In a library setting, it is important that accurate figures showing the use of the facility are collated. People counting can highlight shortfalls in staffing at specific times of the day, and the need for redeployment to ancillary tasks at others. It has certainly helped Woolwich to evidence the success of its services and exemplary approach to community libraries and space.
For more information about D-Tech services or to book a technology review to find out how we can help you, call 01394420077.