Libraries today are unique, integrated learning centres that not only have a wide collection of books and online resources but also serve as venues for informative workshops. Given the sheer scale of resources and operations, technology plays a pivotal role in maintaining a successful library. iBeacon is one such technology, that is hugely transforming experiences at libraries and is already being deployed in leading libraries across the world.
Given the massive adoption of mobile phone, reaching the target audience through their mobile phones, be it in retail stores or events or practically any location is among the surest ways of capturing their attention. Even in the case of libraries, beacons provide the perfect platform to blend the offline library experience with an enhanced, tailored online experience delivered through the mobile phones of members’/patrons’.
Beacons can deliver a host of valuable solutions to libraries. Some of the top use cases that can be powered by beacons are explained below:
1. Shelf information – Notifications about specific books in a shelf can be sent to members who are in vicinity of that shelf.
2. Book circulation notifications – Information about a member’s individual library account, such as renewal dates, availability of requested books, and other circulation notifications can be automatically sent to the member’s phone when he/she enters the library.
3. Event updates – Updates about various events in the library can be sent to members either at the entrance, or at other specific locations within the library (eg. cafeteria, notice board, etc.)
4. Navigation support – Beacons, together with map integration can display a member’s exact location on the map of the library, thus making it easy for him/her to look up different areas on the map and navigate to specific locations.
5. Booking of study rooms – Help students look up study rooms that are vacant and also help in booking the room.
In this post, we will discuss in detail about how you can easily set up a beacon campaign for your library, for the book circulation use case, that has been described above.
The objective of this campaign is to allow your library to automatically send notifications to its members, with regards to their individual library or book account details. Such notifications can include availability of requested books, books due for renewal, overdue books and any other relevant notifications, while members enter the library. This beacon solution is a seamless and efficient way of informing library members about important book notifications. In addition, it also reduces the manual effort of library attendants, who are involved in checking and informing members about their individual book notifications.
Let’s illustrate this campaign through an example.
We will create a welcome message and custom notification for a member of ‘New Library’, based on a previously requested book, say ‘The Alchemist’. So, when the member enters the library, he/she will automatically receive a notification that the requested book is now available for issue.
Step 1: Add beacons to the dashboard
The first step towards running a campaign is to purchase a couple of beacons.
For this campaign, we will be using one beacon, which will be installed at the entrance of the library. You can also choose to use 2 to 3 beacons, in case of a larger entrance area. Once the beacon is in place, we will add its details such as UUID, major and minor numbers to the Beaconstac dashboard, as shown in the image below. You can also name the beacon for easy identification. For example, in this campaign we have named the beacon as ‘Entrance’, based on its location in the library. Once the beacon details have been added, it is ready to be installed.
Step 2: Create cards
Next, we’ll create a card that members of New Library will see on their phone screens, once they enter the library. Cards are basically creatives that show up as notifications on users’ mobile phone when certain conditions are met. Beaconstac offers several types of cards such as Summary, Photo, Media, etc.
As mentioned earlier, we will create a welcome message along with a custom notification about the member’s previously requested book (The Alchemist) that is now available for issue. This message will be sent to the member’s phone, when he/she enters New Library.
Step 3: Add rules
Once the card has been created, we have to create a rule for the beacon placed at the entrance of the library, so that it triggers the welcome message and notification, 5 seconds after the member enters the library.
Step 4: Create custom attributes
The next step is to add custom attributes that will ensure that only the desired audience receive beacon messages. Custom attributes are used to filter users based on criteria such as patron type (member, non-member, etc.), book availability, or any other relevant data point.
For this example, we are creating an attribute called, “Book Availability”. If the “Book Availability” attribute matches to “Yes”, then a welcome message with a custom notification will be sent to the member.
Step 5: Set actions
The last step to creating the campaign, is to set the action that needs to be triggered when the rule matches the required criteria. In this case, the required action is to send a welcome message and notification to members when they are at the entrance of the library.
Now, we are all set! The test campaign is ready. Here’s the notification that will pop up on the app screen if a member is at the entrance of New Library, for more than 5 seconds.
Try out this beacon pilot project and let me know your thoughts about this campaign. If you have any questions with regards to this campaign or if there is a specific campaign you would like to read about, I’ll be more than happy to share how you can get it done using Beaconstac.
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!