At the Renew Rethink Revitalise mini conference I saw a fantastic presentation by staff from Moonee Valley libraries on how they use Near Field Communication (NFC) in their libraries.

I was inspired…

Most conference attendees had heard of NFC but I don’t know of a lot that had thought about it in (public) library terms.

I guess the use of NFC that most people are familiar with is paypass (where you pay for stuff by tapping your credit card on a  reader). Already most android and microsoft phones have NFC capabilities (hopefully Apple will soon)

In library terms think QR codes only more useful…

(my favourite quote from the presentation = ‘QR codes are kinda ugly’)

This post at MissKokothelibrarian says it way better than I can…


I was surprised to hear most librarians at the conference had at least heard of NFC and were already relating it to the lack-lustre results of QR codes. But as I listened to Moonee Valley present how they use NFC technology in their library, I thought this is much better!

See we already trust NFC in our everyday lives, through paypass in our Debit or Credit cards. It is seamless technology, that once set up, only requires one step to use. Most Microsoft and Android phones already have NFC capabilities (hopefully Apple will join the party soon) and there are quite a few other ways NFC can be and is being used in daily life.

  • Opening doors. BMW has NFC-enabled car keys.
  • Companies and universities are looking into or rolling out using NFC-enabled devices as security badges. To gain physical access somewhere, members need only tap their smartphones at the door.
  • Downloading information. Advertisers and marketers can use NFC chips in porters and other promotional materials so all you have to do to get more information is tap or wave your phone (easier than QR codes, perhaps).
  • With programmable tags you can buy, you can tap your phone to a sticker (on your desk, wall, car, or wherever) to automatically change the settings, such as volume or Wi-Fi network, open an app, pair Bluetooth devices, and more. For example, you could switch to car mode when you get into your car, turn on the alarm app when you tap your night stand, turn off the ringer when you get to your desk.

These ideas are great, but lets look at how the New York Public Library has employed the technology.

I bet your now starting to get wonderful ideas about NFC in libraries, yes?

The idea Moonee Valley mentioned, which I just adore, is creating a “shopping wall” of books. Have a wall display showing the latest fiction or favourite kids stories.  Behind each front cover image on the wall have NFC stickers programmed to send your patrons straight to that book on the online catalogue when they wave their phone over it.

Or create an events wall! Instead of sending patrons to book, enable the technology to automatically sign them up to the event they waved their phone over along with an email reminder a day before the event.

To play around with NFC technology for personal use visit the Google Play store and download Trigger….”


NFC tags are fairly low cost or we could even reprogram existing RFID tags.

I wonder if I can convince MPOW to let me play with NFC in our libraries?

Wandering off to contemplate taking over the library one NFC tag at a time.