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Scanning a smart phone as a library card

Barcodephoto © 2008 Conor Lawless | more info (via: Wylio)

A few months ago, I ran across some posts about apps like CardStar and Key Ring. These are designed to let you put all the numbers from your membership and rewards-type cards into your smartphone, eliminating the need to carry around a wallet full of cards.  Unfortunately, laser scanners (like our current Metrologic scanners) are great for scanning materials but aren't able to read barcodes off a shiny smart phone screen.

This post from the Swiss Army Librarian had me thinking about it again, and we're ordering a CCD scanner for testing that should work to scan the screens (wondering why we use laser scanners? here's a great FAQ that covers laser vs CCD scanners).  I also checked to see if there were any LINK policies limiting a library to using the patron's actual library card--- according to Heidi O, there aren't.  Each library makes its own decision.

So...  take a look at the Swiss Army Librarian's post.  Read what he writes about libraries honoring "virtual" library cards. 

  • Have you had requests for this from your patrons?
  • Will your library honor a "virtual" library card?  (If your library would honor a "virtual" library card, would you also honor a barcode that a patron recites or writes down on paper?)
  • What do you think about this new technology?


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We actually had a patron kind of mad about it not working here at the library. On the one hand, how would we know it's his card, but on the other, how do we know any of the cards we get are that person's card. We don't cross check with photo ID, nor do stores with credit cards. The difference is the the store doesn't really care because they get paid regardless either by the actual card holder or by the credit card's or the store's insurance. The library doesn't get paid, it just gets ripped off, so we are more sensitive to the issue, even though maybe we shouldn't be. With Koha we could put a photo of the patron in their account so when scanned it would match. It doesn't do anything for selfcheck or other situations, so do we fight the good yet annoying fight that makes patrons mad, or do we just roll with it? At this point, I'm in favor of rolling with it.

Good points. And interesting to know that you've already had a patron ask about the technology!

If you do decide to "roll with it", hopefully we'll be able to hook you up with the required CCD scanners! :)

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