Thursday 25 September 2014

Use your smartphone to borrow library books

By Kash Cheong, The Straits Times, 24 Sep 2014

THERE'S no need to fret if you find yourself stuck behind a long queue at the library borrowing station these days - just whip out your phone.

"It's very convenient," said teacher Joserve Teo, 30. "It certainly allows you to beat the queue at borrowing stations and get things done faster."

Users need to register for an online myLibrary account at NLB first. They can then download the NLB Mobile app on their smartphones and use their username and password to access the app.

Checking a book out simply involves activating the app's "scan" feature, pointing the phone camera at the book's barcode and confirming the loan.

Once the book is borrowed using the app, a library management system registers the loan so the gate alarm will not sound when a borrower walks out. Users can also use the app to scan and search for books of all languages in the library catalogue.

The NLB Mobile app allows users to add multiple accounts so that parents, for example, can store their children's accounts on their app and borrow books for the whole family.

Mother-of-two Casey Chia, 38, told The Straits Times: "When I go to the library with my sons, I usually scan multiple books with multiple library cards at the borrowing station.

"I always feel bad about making the person behind me wait, so this app would really save the hassle."

NLB Mobile also recommends book titles based on a member's loan history and suggests library events tailored to their location.

The app also allows users to carry out other functions available on the NLB website, including reserving books, browsing titles and signing up for e-mail reminders on loan due dates.

Library members who sign up for a myLibrary account at NLB's website will get their usernames and passwords by post within five days, but they can get them on the spot if they sign up at any public library by Oct 18.

The NLB Mobile app, available for both iOS and Android devices, has been downloaded more than 1,000 times since roadshows promoting it started last weekend.

Library user Sarah Wong, 27, said: "The app sounds like a great innovation that improves library services - if only it had come sooner."

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