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Fostering a Culture of Reading – with the Help of Technology

By Johannes L. ChuaJuly 23, 2017

TECHNOLOGY CAN EITHER be a boon or bane to reading. Some say that it is a distraction especially to the young ones – evolving into the “destruction” of proper discourse, analytical thinking, and full understanding. But technology, on the other hand, can become a tool to elevate reading or make the reading experience more comfortable.

Inside the New Taipei City Library, the old and new merge harmoniously, from the patrons to the entire setup of its system. Upon entrance, one can observe that visiting a library is a “family affair” as if they are going to watch a movie; but instead of boxes brimming with popcorn, they are clutching on to books of different colors, shapes and sizes.

Aside from being a 24-hour library (at some floors only but that in itself is such a treat to book lovers), the 10-storey building is a paradise to learners.  The first floor includes a 24-hour Self Checkout corner, a New Arrival section, a gallery, multifunction area, and even a coffee shop.

The second level includes a Periodicals & Newspaper section which is like the “mother ship” of all publications – the choices available are so wide (over a thousand titles!), from fashion to food, from design to automobile – that you can even stay there for an entire day and still couldn’t read through all the new magazines. There’s also a Senior Citizens’ Resources center which helps the elder ones with their reading experience.

The third level is where a Young Reader’s Area and a Reader’s Storytelling Zone are located. Here, you will see kids with their parents having a “bonding” time reading with books stacked as tall as the kids’ waist. But what makes the space so delightful is the fact that kids are allowed to act like themselves, unlike other conventional libraries where they are admonished when making noise.

The fourth floor has a study room and something that teens would love – a Comics & Manga section. The next floor is the Multimedia Area and it is also commendable how wide the selection of materials in there.

From the sixth to the ninth floor, endless books are available for research, reference and enjoyment. When we were there on a mid-afternoon, there was an endless stream of people of all ages are coming in and out of the building and up and down the floors. The reading spaces are also customized or designed (choose among the Japanese Zen style, Bali style, European style, etc.) based on the needs of different kinds of readers, so that all the patrons can read in a friendly and comfortable environment – it is just like reading at home.

family-reading-area

Fine use of technology

What makes the New Taipei City Library stand out is the use of technology that is helping all generations of readers. The technology, developed by IDSmart of ClarIDy Solutions, Inc., is not disruptive but elevates the library experience to a more comfortable level.

With the use of technology, waiting lines are cut drastically. Library patrons do not also have to go around aimlessly, wasting time, just to find a book or a reference. Ultimately, people are encouraged to bring books home, and to return these books on time.

In the New Taipei City Library, the IDSmart is utilized in at least 13 applications. Upon entry, there’s already the RFID Security Gate to eliminate the need for a roving security guard who will check the patrons’ bags. There’s also the Seat Reservation and the Self-Service Station which allows patrons to have a more comfortable reading and researching experience. IDSmart also installed in the New Taipei City Library an RFID Intelligent Bookshelf. By swiping the reader’s card or entering the reader numbers on the Book Reserved Station, readers can find their reserved books quickly and easily according to the turned-on LED lights on the bookshelf. It is like finding an empty parking slot via a green light hanging over the parking area. You do not have to go around like a headless chicken just to find what you need.

One very smart use of technology is showcased in the IDSmart Bookshower. This machine can disinfect and remove dust from the book cover to the inside pages, allowing the reader to have a cleaner book. Like a microwave, just open the door of the bookshower, put the book inside and one can even witness how the pages are opened and dusted meticulously. Now, books from the library can now be safely brought home and placed beside the bed for reading before sleep.

Once a reader finds a book he or she loves (and after ‘cleaning’ it at the Bookshower), one doesn’t have to fall in line and wait for one’s turn to see a librarian checking or stamping one’s library card. One just has to stand in front of a 24- Hour Self Check Out Station. And once you have finished reading the book you borrowed, there’s another 24-Hour Self Return Station where you just drop your book in a chute. That is the convenience of technology which encourages more Taiwanese people to read.

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The IDSmart Library system will be showcased by ClarIDy Solutions Inc. as it joins Taiwan Expo 2017 at the SMX Convention Center on Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. The event is organized by the Taiwan Association Inc. (led by President Allan Lin) and with the support of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).