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Technology Trends for Public Libraries in 2021

The world is changing rapidly. The way that we use technology in our public libraries is evolving and libraries need to ensure that they are keeping up with current trends.

As technology advances, patrons are looking for ways to learn that are interactive and new. These days, just having books is not enough.

Here’s a guide to some of the technology trends that we’re seeing in public libraries in 2021.

Virtual Reality Learning

We are seeing a lot more use of virtual reality learning in a library setting. Many public libraries use this as a way to immerse their patrons in all different areas of learning.

With virtual reality, patrons take a tour of a history museum or explore different places in the world without leaving the room. This increases interest in learning as well as an understanding of the topic.

Libraries are also starting to show patrons what the future could look like.

Scientists can predict what things such as, sea leaves will be at, or what the building expansions will do to our forest. They can show you these predictions using virtual reality.

Virtual reality is also a great way that libraries can incorporate storytelling into patrons learning. For some, this is a more interactive and engaging form of learning.

Other benefits of learning through virtual reality include:

  • Acting out real-life scenarios through virtual reality
  • Reinforcing the knowledge of literary skills in an active setting
  • Interactive scenarios and situations that require the student to use critical thinking

Drones

Drone being used in a demonstration

Drones are a newer technology that is used by many people these days. Libraries help patrons stay informed on the many FAA regulations that come with using a drone.

These days drones are also being used by libraries for instructions and demonstrations. Patrons can see firsthand how something is constructed or what the city looks like from above.

Drones are also going to be playing a large part in libraries moving forward as well. Drones could provide book delivery as well as pick up. This allows the libraries to be accessible to a much wider audience.

Some universities are looking at lending drones to students for learning purposes. The University of South Florida is one of those universities. You can read about what they are doing here.

Increased Privacy Services

Keeping personal information private is one of the greatest concerns of library patrons today.

One of the things libraries are starting to do is, install a new web browser that allows patrons to feel more secure while using library technology.

It is called the Brave New Browser. This browser works like Google Chrome, but the privacy setting is enhanced.

The web browser essentially forces websites to use an encrypted connection, so your information stays private.

Brave also has its own private browsing mode. The private browsing mode masks your IP address. This makes finding which computer or device you are using practically impossible.

Introducing Computer Gaming

Student on library laptop computer playing an educational game

The American Library Association has been discussing the many benefits of computer gaming recently. By using games, you can reach a wider audience of people including children, young adults, and even older adults who might be hesitant to pick up a book.

There are many other benefits of implementing gaming into our libraries,

  • Educational games are a fun and interactive way to teach children skills such as reading and spelling.
  • Gaming can enhance one’s vocabulary
  • Games help encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well.

If you are looking for other ways to increase student engagement during this COVID-19 pandemic, you can read this article with other great suggestions!

Robots

Boy learning about robots in a public library STEM program

Robots are not commonly used in libraries yet. However, when we look at all of the uses that they have, they could be great assets.

Some large-scale libraries using robots for storing and retrieving material, shelf-reading, and inventory management.

The other place that robots are being introduced in the library is STEM programs. STEM educational programs. The robots can help teach students about building and programming robots.

Another area that libraries are introducing robots to greet the patrons. The robots can answer directional questions and get the patrons acquainted with the library.

3D Printing

Did you know that as of 2017 there were 800 3D printers in libraries? There is a study that has shown that over the past four years there has been a thousand percent expansion rate.

Libraries are providing 3D technology for the community so that people can conduct research and create prototypes of new products.

The other unique thing that has come from 3D printers being used in libraries is the help it has brought to the community during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Some researchers created a face shield using 3D printers to give to first responders.

You can read this article about 3D printers as an emerging trend in the library industry.

What Technology Trends Libraries Should Be Looking For In 2021

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Libraries need to stay up to date with technology trends. Libraries can help to provide so many resources to patrons looking to learn in new and creative ways.

They can do so by implementing 3D printers, drones, robots, and much more.

These days people are looking for active, hands-on learning as well as a nice and upgraded technology.

While we will see libraries change dramatically over the course of the next few years, they are still instrumental to our communities.