by Ryan Claringbole

fyi

The Daviess County Public Library wanted their community to know about the programs and events taking place at the library, but needed an engaging way to reach people outside the library. Signs work, yes, but nowhere near as well as one would think – they inform only so many people. Almost one year ago, when DCPL’s new director, Jim Blanton came on board the library was also trying to solve the issue of limited space. The idea struck them that they can solve both problems simultaneously by having a virtual gallery utilizing augmented reality technology. After looking to see what sort of technology is available they decided on the free app Aurasma. This is where FYI (Frame Your Imagination!) comes in.

Aurasma has been discussed in a previous post here. What DCPL has done with it is very exciting, and shows the possibilities of having hotspots throughout your community that can convey to anyone what is happening in your library!

DCPL got in at a good time, too. Aurasma has a “skinning” function for their app, which allows each channel (account) to customize their colors, logo and splash page. Aurasma currently has a price attached to the skinning feature, but DCPL is grandfathered in from when this feature was offered for free.

DCPL first introduced FYI to their public at a local festival, using chalk drawings as trigger points to advertise upcoming library events. A great example is using the chalk drawing of a bee and, when applying the Aurasma app, the person will be sent to an event page about the library’s upcoming spelling bee! The community embraced this innovative marketing, awarding the library’s chalk drawings 2nd place at the festival.

The heart of FYI is the frames that now populate the walls of the library’s main lobby. Several empty frames are hanging on the wall, waiting for patrons to come and scan the frame to view what is inside. When they do, the patrons view artwork by a local artist (and also library employee). The app allows implementers to set a time limit for whatever image they want shown, allowing artwork to be rotated on a predetermined schedule. The library can also use the frames to announce contest winners. During a crime prevention workshop at the library, children created artwork on how to prevent crime. Some of the pieces created by the children were displayed as virtual artwork in the FYI frames alongside a commissioned piece.

Now, some people might think this sounds familiar, a la QR Codes. While the concept is relatively the same – scan an area with your smart phone and you will be taken to an image, site or video – they are very different in terms of how they are presented. The QR Code looks like a scrambled barcode and is fairly unappealing. An Aura (what Aurasma calls its trigger points) can be applied to anything. An empty frame, a door, even a face. The only thing the public needs to know is what to scan with the Aurasma app, and they will be taken to the key informative point. Also, Auras can be set using location-sensitive areas; having geolocation as an option is a strong point. The staff mentioned that the experience is rather magical, and patrons are taking to it quite well! Patrons will come in just to see what the new artwork is through the Aurasma app.

DCPL is in talks with businesses in the community to have Auras set up in spots promoting library events. Doctors’ offices can have an area that says, “scan here with your Aurasma app to see the next event at your public library!” and the latest event will be incorporated into the trigger point. These points do not have to be distracting like a scrambled code, but can be a well designed poster of the library.

Interest in DCPL’s use of Aurasma is increasing. The library started promoting it by putting bookmarks with information about the app into items at the checkout desk. Now the library sees people spreading the news by word-of-mouth, and patrons are noticeably excited about it. The best part is DCPL is just really stretching its legs with this.

The possibilities to promote events or special features through trigger points that can be attached to anything is practically endless:

  • You can have each staff member’s face pull up their book or movie suggestions
  • You can have posters with the movies that the library is showing link to the trailer or reviews (DCPL is already doing this)
  • You can have an epic scavenger hunt in the library or throughout the entire community.

And this isn’t meant to completely circumvent “normal” interaction between staff and patrons; if anything, interaction has improved by making the patrons curious. This is just a new way for the library to show the community something new, to showcase local art and programs without taking up too much space, AND they can advertise library events throughout the city, easily changing the events and programs.

Learn more and explore what Aurasma can do for you and your library.

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