A new app is allowing members of a Victorian library to borrow items by simply taking a photo on their smartphones and walking straight out with their book.
Yarra Libraries partnered with library technology provider Communico to develop the app, which was released in December. It works on both iOS and Android phones.
It’s the first Australian library to use the technology.
Yarra City Council Mayor Misha Coleman says Council wanted to make it more convenient for members to borrow items on a “grab-and-go basis”.
“When a member scans an item’s barcode with their phone camera, our library management system will check the item out for that member,” she told Government News.
“This then disables our security system so they can walk straight out with that item without any alarms going off.”
Unlike other library apps, members don’t need to scan their item again on a separate device to ensure security alarms don’t go off.
Inspired by international libraries
“We were inspired by a handful of international libraries that allowed members to check out items on their phone,” Clr Coleman said.
“This meant that users could bypass any queues at the counter or even a self-checkout machine -they could just use their phone and out they go,” she said.
However, Clr Coleman says it’s a first for Australia.
“Yarra Libraries is the first library service in Australia that has rolled out an app that allows members to borrow directly from a smartphone, without the worry of setting the security gates off,” she said.
“At this stage, only a few other libraries in the United States are using this technology that we are aware of.”
A one-stop shop
The council would like this app to become a “one-stop shop” for everything Yarra Libraries has to offer.
The app allows members to see everything they’ve borrowed at a glance through an integrated bookshelf, which includes both physical and digital items.
Members can also browse and register for Yarra Library events through the app, and be added to a wait list for sold-out events.
Study spaces at certain locations can also be booked through the app, and members are able to check their availability in real time.
Since the app launched in December, it has been downloaded more than 1,000 times, Clr Coleman says.
“Members have told us they love how convenient it is, especially the self-checkout feature,” she said.
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