Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Smartphone Apps Give Users Virtual Library Cards

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Smartphone Apps Give Users Virtual Library Cards

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The popular apps CardStar and Key Ring, which allow customers to keep virtual rewards cards on their mobile devices, are now being used to store library cards. In order to create the smartphone cards, patrons input or scan the bar code numbers on the physical cards with their mobile devices. The app then recreates the bar code on the phone, and that code can be scanned or manually typed in when a user wants to check out library books. Consumers without smartphone capabilities can also use the programs to consolidate all of their member card bar codes onto a single printed card.

Libraries nationwide have adopted this new technology as another step in encouraging user- and tech-friendly customer service. With the growing number of smartphone users, a mobile app may be more convenient for patrons than a physical library card. But the virtual cards present challenges to librarians, because not every scanner can read a phone screen. …

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