Public library AR experience: Solus and the Summer Reading Challenge
For Thing14 I will focus on my experience using AR through the Summer Reading Agency.
I have used the Solus app during the last 2 years as part of the promotional material from The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge; During 2014 for Mythical Maze as seen in the above youtube clip, and for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, Guinness Book of Records.
In 2014, the app displayed a moving animation of one of every10 pictures when held up against it, making up the 10 part Mythical Maze picture trail. As an incentive for using the app, every picture from the trail and all the stickers collected during the challenge scanned through the app increased incrementally points to gain access to games and information through the app; using the app on everything (trail and stickers) allowed all three Mythical Maze games and information/rhymes on all 10 mythical beasts.
The greatest incentive for completing the app trail/getting reading stickers was gaining access to these games. Many parents were rather reluctant to use the app at first, most being worried about signing up to something and giving their personal details, especially as this was linked to a children’s activity. Once it had been made clear that this wasn’t necessary they were pleased to try it out. I was working at a branch library during this time, and so I downloaded the app onto my own personal phone and was able to show parents what games/information they would get access to once they had used the app to scan the picture trail and their stickers.
This year the summer reading challenge linked in youtube clips in addition to the moving pictures that could be seen through the app linked to the Guinness Book of Records theme. Prior testing of the app caused a few problems this year; some of our iPads kept crashing when trying to load the camera to demonstrate the app, and the youtube links didn’t always work. Also, devices that were able to download the Mythical Maze app the year before were not compatible at downloading the app this year. Hmmm…. The app crashed on people’s phones more frequently this year too than last year, which was a shame as being able to see the youtube clips(such as the largest yoyo) when it worked, were amazing, but for some library users waiting around, trying out the app that kept crashing was rather disappointing. One user summed it up ‘It’s a lovely idea, but we came in to read”.
Reflecting on this, I know that the apps work well, especially after seeing how well they worked for the Mythical Maze. Loading the apps onto library tablets/mobile devices might be a way to demonstrate how the app works (a youtube clip like the one above) increasing the chances of library users seeing the app working well. But if they don’t work efficiently then our time and our aims are not being effective.
I would be very tempted to try using Layar to create our own apps to include as part of a school visits or as a children’s library trail where the posters could be linked to certain books/themes to lead them around the library to find specific information, as demonstrated in the LibrARi demo. (not as a replacement Dewey, but as a visual guide for a specific purpose). We would have to carefully plan the trail as to what we wanted the users to get from the experience, with additional information. Knowing that as part of the Layar package we could have as many posters as we want within the cost is useful, for sending posters out to run in our branch libraries and also to have extra copies of the posters in case of accidental ripping/sharpie marks!
I would be interested to see how AR would work for adults as a way of linking up with other organisations in the local area, and using posters a trail to link to, say our “Books On Prescription” area to help us link users to local organisations and interest groups. It could also be used during a local arts festival season to highlight some of the activities that go on and activities that are on offer through the app linking up to relevant youtube clips.
It is important that libraries can support both children and adults in using this technology. Having information available for both library users and staff in an easy to follow format to guide them through using the app will assist in gaining confidence in using this technology that is becoming increasingly common in our daily lives from booking concert tickets to checking in baggage at airports.