Future of the Library: A comprehensive analysis of a Smart Library Technology (SLT)

by FRED ABANKWA about a month ago in future

The technology of the 21st century has made libraries valuable to deliver services, however, in some remote area, it's difficult for others to enjoy the pleasure from libraries. More so, libraries play a major role in providing informal learning to people nationwide. It’s a fundamental area which aims to bring digital literacy to everyone. Libraries are leading the world of new communication skills. It has helped build digital citizenship in most countries. It should be the first places for the most advanced technologies. It also reveals that smart technology would help people in remote countries to enjoy reading books. It also reveals that the workloads of librarians would be reduced.

Future of the Library: A comprehensive analysis of a Smart Library Technology (SLT)
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The technology of the 21st century has made libraries valuable to deliver services, however remote access of some countries makes it irrelevant for others to enjoy the pleasure from libraries. Knowledge is of great essence in our generation today[1], therefore there is the need for libraries to play a key role in our life. With the advances in technology, people get the unrestricted flow of information to add to their knowledge bank. Libraries play a key role in building informal learning in our societies. It’s a fundamental base which aims to bring coding and digital literacy to everybody in a fun and engaging way. Libraries now are leading the world of new communication skills. It should be the first places where most advanced technologies are implemented. It leads the way to digital citizenship[2]. When population increase there would pressure on the libraries to provide knowledge for people. Therefore, the Library needs to change its way of providing service. The changing natures of the library will not only reflect that of the web but will also feature new attributes based on the uniqueness of libraries[3]. The way contemporary library uses to supply information has been changed over time due to technology from Web 3.0 to web 4.0. The richness of Web 4.0 characteristics has created a dynamic way to user participation. Web 4.0 has an intelligent electronics agent, symbiotic, ubiquitous, and a machine which will be developed up to the level of the human brain with advanced nanotechnology and human interaction interfaces[4]. Due to Web 4.0 development[3] suggested that Library 4.0 would soon be in place. The researcher added that Library 4.0 includes not only software-based approaches but the technological environment. Due to the increase in technology this smartness would be extended to libraries across the globe. With our limited resource and no space to build libraries to serve needed people, libraries need smart technology to help solve the needed demand. Smart appliances and voice-controlled assistants are examples of how technology is evolving to make people’s lives comfortable[5]. Libraries must-see challenges like underutilized space, limited budgets, and shrinking circulations as an opportunity to innovate and transform the definition of this critical community issues[6].

As technology changes, the way we manage our lives also changes and affect the way we manage our libraries. The smart library needs to embrace technology and avoid digital exclusion. Therefore, for the library to be considered smart in the future it needs to improve the technological literacy of local communities. A library fitted with smart library technology is able to be open to library users without being staffed[7]. The technology enables remote control of library buildings[8]. This includes lighting, self-service, automatic doors, and computers. This enables us to extend library hours and people can use it at any time. The major changes we expect in the future to happen in our academic libraries are the use of new innovating technology. This paper brings to light some innovating technology that is expected to happen in the future when one enters the libraries. The student and learning capacity can be strengthened and yield better product due to the smart evolution.

The libraries adapting to these new and existing applications of technology can help speed up the service for the library. This will help break the barriers among the remote areas that needed to read and do more research. This could help further collaboration across the globe. This means that libraries would provide improved access to scholarly material and resources. This innovation will help redefine and improve access for researchers in the across international borders and work towards common goals. The accessibility of digital materials and resources will keep growing. This will undoubtedly affect the role of library services.

For libraries to offer equality of access to information for every citizen irrespective of the area, then there is the need for high tech digital use and implement the technologies. A lot of people think libraries serve as trusted spaces, free to enter and should be accessed for all to learn. People explore, share information, read current issues, hold meetings, acquire knowledge and meeting different people[9]. The use of innovative technology will even pave space for other things to be done within the library. Even though a lot of libraries are using Google Hangouts and other social network services for library meetings, or Piktochart to create library infographics, therefore this study goes beyond to bring to light some useful smart technology[2]a. It will help the resource of the library to use effectively, efficiently organized, flexible and sustainable and socially more economical.


Research is done by Schöpfel, Joachim and other scholars pave way for the researcher to analyze the impact of the smart library technology for the next generation[10]-[11]. The authors presented the idea “how do smart libraries look like? The researcher presented an in-depth idea and stated a definition does not exist yet but there are many strategies related to the concept. He added that the use of technologies and innovative changes should be embodied in a comprehensive strategic concept that fits the local requirements of the staff and the users.[12] work on smart library models for a future generation. The researcher stated that libraries are now renamed as Resource Centers with an online facility to provide resource sharing services to its registered users. Advances in information communication technology disclosed a new opportunity for innovation in conventional library models. For library information system to utilizes collective intelligence and cloud computing, the knowledge convergence centre capable of responding to various information demands, the development of next-generation information systems based on the latest information and communication technology is needed[13]. The library automation systems must be considered[14]. The researcher added that radio frequency identification (RFID) which allows a library book to be tracked and communicated with by radio waves so that library user will get instant information. RFID can be used in library circulation operations and theft detection systems. A researcher [15] conducted a search on an RFID-based Library Management system using smart Cabinets using SAR simulations in the presence of human phantom models and concluded that unwanted identification of books residing at nearby shelves was checked. This will help increase the pleasure of reading and researching more since the right information can be retrieved. Since a smart library technology is able to be open to library users without being staffed[8] a proposed Smart RFID system which is a wireless non-contact system that uses radiofrequency to transfer data from a tag attached to an object would be useful. The purpose of the smart RFID system is that it doesn’t need the line of sight, it removes manual bookkeeping of records, improved utilization of resources like manpower, infrastructure, and less time consumption. It also helps to allow fast transaction flow for the library and will prove immediate and long term benefits to the library in traceability and security[16]. RFID technology in Smart Library has made patron’s work easier and redefined various library-related services. Another system that will help the smart library to ease the burden on the librarian and to make the users of the library use it more effectively is smart Library Automation System[17]. The researcher added that the software is coded by using the web-based programming techniques and with the language definition it makes it so simple and easy for international cross borders to use the library.

Smart innovative technology As the population keeps growing there is an absolute pressure on demand for books to broaden their knowledge. Since the land remains constants there is the need to find a smart way to provides services to those that are in need of the requested item without affecting future generation.

i) Light fidelity The research was done on Light Fidelity(LIFI) based on smart library system technology[18]-[19]. It indicates that services can be done using light transmitters which will reduce the pressure on Wi-Fi. This helps reduces the cost of internet in data transfer.

ii) Drone

Another factor is the use of drones. It’s an unmanned aerial vehicle. They are manually commanded through remote control, travelling under real-time human control, or programmed by using integrated systems of digital control, such as sensors, radars, and GPS[22]. This should be made specially that the sensor can locate everywhere the person is in order to locate. The first UAV in 1935 was piloted by “servo-operated controls” being regularly used as a target. The drones are the hexacopter with six rotors to help in taken the books to whatever destination needed to be given. Drones are a good option for creating content for the library, collecting data or for delivery service for the library users. The drones are expected to replace another book delivery services to reduce fewer casualties even though some ethical and deontological problems arise.

iii) Robots and Driverless car

Robotic is seemly amazing in helping people in the smartest way. Is been able to function autonomously or as part of a complete robot. When the future library is expected to introduce this in their field of work it easy pressure on librarians. The Robotic Arm is a programmable manipulator, composed of the rotational or linear segment that controls the precision of their movement[24]. There is usually a tool which is able to move, position and manipulate objects, this could potentially be a mailing and also deposit books and other materials to the librarian or the user. This prevents stress in searching for a particular book or the user go to the librarian for particular documents. On the other hand, the driverless car is an automobile that has an autopilot system allowing it to safely move from one place to another without help from the human driver[25]. Ideally, this can travel a far distance to deliver books to the customer at a high speed.

iv) Movable Library

Libraries are ubiquitous and are really important for everyone to have access to it irrespective of their location. Due to an increase in population without a change in the land,32 years to come that’s 2050, will there be the land for people to build? No. That’s where the movable library should be taken a keen matter to assist the next generation. In some remote areas in Ghana specifically Northern and Volta region, it’s really difficult for people to have access to the library. This academically affects them and the nation as a whole. It’s rather very appropriate for the government to engage in the movable library to enable a lot to read without limited their career. This technology needs small space to operate. A lot of people can have access to it. This can help reach out to even refugees who are willing to read.

In China, Beijing one can have access to this kind of library. A newly train has such a library to assist those who want to read. Subway trains in Beijing have been transformed into libraries so that even blind people can listen. The library is actually home to audio books[26]. The carriage prominently features pictures of various Chinese novels, with the titles clearly listed on the cover of the books. It’s on selected trains that run on Line 4 and Line 10 of Beijing’s subways feature the audiobooks.

For a person to listen, a QR code needs to be scanned. Once scanned, you will have the opportunity to listen to them to audiobooks for free.


The future of librarians as information providers is not in a dazzling building, but in the world of cyberspace that resides in the hand-held devices of most library customers, and as an indispensable partner in the local and world communities[34]. Libraries are seen as a house of books. With technology spreading its arms into every area of human life, libraries have not been left out and it has become beneficial to them. The information provided indicates that Next Generation libraries and Librarianship would be different from current libraries and librarianship. The librarians must understand and adapt to the existing services to be able to create new ones to meet their community needs. This will help change the perception people have about the library. The technology will improve the service of smart libraries. It will also bridge the gap of the across international borders. Upon the findings, it attested that smart Technology will improve the life of the next generation and an increase in population won’t affect the work of the library service. It also indicates that with the use of library card like ATM can help bridge the learning gap across the internal border in borrowing book since information is fed on the card. With the common apps borrowing a book is no more a problem.


[1] A. Frederick and Y. Run, “Social Media Usability among University Student : A Case Study of Jiangsu Keywords : Introduction,” Glob. Media J., vol. 16, pp. 1–8, 2018

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YUAN RUN (Professor , Director of Scientific Information Institute)

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