Lots of folks have smartphones these days and they're using all sorts of social and geolocation type apps. One of these apps is foursquare, whose recent infographic reports, among other things, a growth of 3400% in 2010. Here's foursquare's video about how to use foursquare, and here's a short clip (1:46) of one of the founders discussing the goals of the location-based social networking application.
What does foursquare (and other similar services) mean for libraries?
Users may be "checking in" at your library and leaving tips and comments for other users. I did a quick check for some of our member libraries and found foursquare tips for Madison PL (most branches), Middleton PL, Sun Prairie PL, and Verona PL. Neat!
Claiming your location
As we've mentioned in the past for Google Maps, you can claim your location. By doing this, you can control the information put out about your library (address, phone number, etc). If you claim your location on foursquare you can also, if you wish, offer "promotions" for your patrons.
Even if you don't want to jump the hoops to claim your location, by creating a foursquare account you will be able to add or edit your library's location (it's always nice to have a correct street address, isn't it?) and add categories and tags. When foursquare users look to see what's in the area, your library can be represented.
More information about foursquare and libraries
There was a great article in the November 2010 issue of Computers in Libraries, "Tech Tips for every librarian. Location, Location, Location: Making foursquare Work for Your Library", that gives some suggestions for how your library might make use of this service. This article is available online through EBSCO (direct link). If you can't access it through the direct link, try going to EBSCO through SCLS or through BadgerLink and doing a search for "foursquare" and "library".
Staying safe using foursquare and other geolocation apps
If you decide to explore using foursquare personally, you may want to review guidelines for staying safe using geolocation-based apps. The argument has been made that broadcasting your location with your check-ins may put you at risk for burglary and other safety issues. At the very least, look through the privacy settings and know what's being broadcasted (don't automatically broadcast to a public Twitter account, for example), and be careful who you "friend" and allow to see your updates. Here are two posts that address safety using foursquare and other geolocation apps: "Foursquare Etiquette and Safety", and "Staying Safe on Foursquare and Facebook Places"
Keeping tabs on what people are saying about you & exploring your town
And... even if you don't want to claim locations or create accounts or become the mayor of local businesses, you can always see what people are saying about your library-- just take a peek at Google maps, Yelp!, and foursquare to see if your library has reviews or tips. These sorts of services are also a good way to see what's popular in an area...just take a look at these highly-reviewed places around Madison. And here's an interesting article about the 200,000 foursquare check-ins at the SuperBowl (Packers fans dominated!).