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Joburg Libraries use IoT (Internet-of-Things) to encourage reading culture.

by Gabriel Mashabela : Senior Librarian Noordegig Library



“Libraries have the reputation of always being at the forefront when it comes to adopting and using new technologies (Bansal, Arora & Suri; 2018)”. This indicates that libraries have always strived to adopt new technologies to improve library services and users’ experiences. The adoption of automation, online catalogues, and the introduction of eBooks, as well as online digital content, are some of the examples which prove that libraries are embracing digital innovations to fulfill their mandates.

CoJ libraries are no exception to this global trend. Joburg growth 2030, concurs and paves ways for all city entities including libraries to resort to digital innovations to provide effective service delivery; including the provision of effective and efficient library services via digital innovations.

City libraries in fulfilling Joburg growth 2030, introduced IoT-powered and embedded services such as the OVERDRIVE Libby App that provides E-Books,  to create and encourage the reading culture. The introduction of eBooks through Overdrive is geared to provide improved and better services as well as to meet the ever-increasing user’s needs including the provision of technology-based services. This includes the provision of reading materials twenty-four hours seven days a week (24/7) at the reader’s fingertips.


Internet of Things -IoT refers to “the interconnection via the internet,  of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.” It can be devices, vehicles, electronics, software, actuators, and connectivity that allows these things to connect, interact and exchange data.

Deployment of IoT in conjure with the eBooks collection of city libraries plays a critical role in creating a reading culture by enhancing access to library reading materials, increasing usage of library eBooks collection, and ensuring that City libraries provide more efficient service. IoT enabled City libraries to maximize usage of library eBooks collection by tracking usage of library eBooks and recommending; suggests them to potential readers. Therefore, IoT makes finding reading materials fast and convenient for the users. Therefore, enabling the library to provide efficient services; this in turn puts a smile on the reader’s face.

Therefore, IoT plays a significant role whereby it suggests and recommends eBooks for users to read. In addition, IoT is hard at work in classifying eBooks in terms of categorizing them as “just added (new books), must-read, most read, most popular”. This information is crucial for users in decision-making. In addition, this information is valuable for city libraries in terms of developing an informed collection development.

IoT has the capabilities to improve the users’ experience and encourage the culture of reading further. User’s experience is improved through recommendation, notification, and tracking movement of library resources and informs its user.  Therefore, IoT enables City libraries to put into practice the five rules of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan; (who is renowned as the father of library science):

Rule 1Books are for use– IoT recommends and suggests books to users.

Rule 2: Every reader, his or her book– IoT recommends books based on the reading patterns of the users and potential users.

Rule 3: Every book and its reader– Sending out notifications via email for all books placed on hold.

Rule 4: Saving time for the reader- libraries provide efficient service.

Rule 5: The library is a growing organism- Indicating and highlighting newly added eBooks (just added).

Reading can be encouraged further by suggesting other related eBooks by the same author, topics, and subjects. In addition, IoT directs and links users to related eBooks, and other digital collections. In addition, the culture of reading can be created and nurtured by linking users to book reviews of popular books, as well as sending out notifications immediately about the availability of eBooks returned and placed on hold.

City of Johannesburg libraries are embracing new digital innovations to meet the needs of the users. Through IoT, City libraries through their eBooks collection provide an IoT-tailored service in the form of recommendations; notification, and tracking of the movement of eBooks to inform potential users immediately after being returned.

In the next blog, we will focus on the potential usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain in libraries. Until then, cheers.

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