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Geosocial Locations and Libraries

Submitted by Michael Stephens on December 1, 2010 - 9:15am

Today I’m catching up with some recent reports from Pew Internet and American Life. One of the most recent focuses on “geosocial” applications and it offered some not surprising statistics on who is using services like FourSquare or Gowalla. The report finds “that 4% of online adults use a service such as Foursquare or Gowalla that allows them to share their location with friends and to find others who are nearby. On any given day, 1% of internet users are using these services.”

Read the full report here:

Take your plan to offer a free mug or tote bag to whoever becomes mayor of your library to an administrator who has read this report and you may get a flat out “No.” Before you do, consider these ideas as part of your proposal:

It’s too early to gauge impact. Ed Baig of USA Today asked Lee Rainie at Pew about the low numbers and Rainie replied: “The overall number of users of location services is likely to grow over time as new services emerge, as 'networking effects' take hold when more and more people see their friends adopting them, as businesses tie location awareness to bargains and other customer experiences, and as people become more comfortable with what location awareness might bring to them.”

It’s good to have an understanding. Some TechSource readers may never want to check in at the coffee place or the local Whole Foods or anywhere. Others may be experimenting or at least checking out what some libraries have done with geosocial engagement. Just like any of the “things” in the Learning 2.0/23 Things program, having an understanding of an emerging technology prepares us for the next thing and the next and so on.

What might the future hold? This is where it gets very interesting for me. In recent presentations, I’ve riffed on what may come from the popularity of geosocial services paired with location aware devices. Consider these possible roles for future library professionals in these information environments:

Geo-spatial Curation and Stewardship: Who is better equipped to curate and take care of historical information linked to specific geographic locations but the local history librarians? Or who might best oversee the QR code/hyperlinked data tour of sites around town, the campus or corporate headquarters. A librarian well-versed in mobile applications and the information architecture fits the bill nicely - maybe paired with museum/historical society staff in some cases.

Embedded Local Experts: Still working my brain around this one but is it too far out to imagine a time that I might be able to link up with a local expert via a geo-social twitter like app and ask a question? I just toured the wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, Michigan. What if a Wright expert was connected to the site somehow, ready to offer up tidbits and answers via mobile devices during certain hours?

What else do you see in the future for geosocial applications and the work we do?

Comments (1)

We recently claimed the

We recently claimed the google/places "inverted raindrop" (hotpot) icon for our library and edited the underlying data. We were surprised to see the "impressions" and "actions" statistics. I'm going to recommend to all our local businesses that they take advantage of this feature.
A year ago we did a lot of local history / local features in various categories & that work has not had any noticeable effect yet.