Survivalist shows are gaining in popularity. Take Les Stroud, for instance; one of the most popular Canadians around these days, he’s the Steve Irwin who, instead of crocodiles, wrestles with the most extreme, inhospitable environments on the planet. He’s got a hit show, and now an interesting endorsement which may have some potential use for libraries in the near future. He’s using a new device called Spot, a “satellite messenger” that when activated, can pinpoint one’s location, in addition to sending SMS to selected contacts over a selected period of time, if necessary. It’s definitely not Web 2.0, but it’s a no-brainer if the elements are simply too formidable. What are the implications of such a device in libraries?
Off the top of my head I can think of two. No more will that missing edition of Ulysses remain lost; for if the configuration of the device can be established for a particular missing item, then perhaps it can be found regardless of its location and borrower, since the item is of prime importance. Obviously, the cost to configure items would play a huge factor in determining which items in a library would be marked, but think about the potential for keeping tabs on items in a rare book collection? The potential may be RFID on a global basis.
A second thought is that this might well be ‘Twitter in the sky’. Track the progress of the mobile library as it makes its route through the city, suburbs, or urban landscape delivering materials to displaced or immobile patrons. Send an instant positioning message to patrons who want to track their items as they are delivered to their nearest local branch.
Obviously, patron privacy would be a concern, but does the potential for finding lost materials with GPS mean that the delinquent patron will always be found with those materials? Would it ultimately reduce the extra cost of replacement copies by locating lost copies with greater ease?