December 14, 2009 – Contra Costa County, CA – The Contra Costa County Library has been awarded a $60,000 Bay Area Library and Information Systems (BALIS) Innovation grant to create a mobile platform that will push new and existing library content and services -- literally -- into the hands of cell phone users. The "Snap & Go" project will allow Contra Costa County residents with mobile phones and a library card to access library materials, enhanced content, and manage their accounts without having to visit a library building or gain access to a computer.
The Contra Costa County Library is recognized nationally as a leader in utilizing technology to improve service and reduce costs. This is the second BALIS Innovation Grant received by the library. The previous BALIS grant provided partial funding for the book dispensers the library has installed at the Pittsburg/San Pablo and El Cerrito BART stations as well as the Sandy Cove Shopping Center in Byron/Discovery Bay.
The project will utilize QR (Quick Response) codes, a two-dimensional barcode technology popular in Japan and with point-of-sale companies in the United States, and increasingly found on product labels, billboards, and posters, to encode information and automatically launch web-accessible functions.
The library will develop a Mobile Patron Support System that will link customers with cell phones to library services and information through QR codes attached to library materials including books, DVDs, flyers, posters, library cards, and the catalog. By taking a picture of the barcode, the phone will launch the library’s mobile website and provide access to three functional areas: detailed, dynamically generated information on titles scanned including reviews, first chapters, and read-alike information; links to library mobile web pages including hours and location information; and links to patron account functions.
"We are thrilled that BALIS has recognized the potential of our "Snap & Go" project to expand library service to mobile customers," said County Librarian Anne Cain. "This development will allow our library to serve as a model for others, to bridge the physical, digital, and mobile worlds and provide service beyond library walls and personal computers."
Contra Costa County is above the national average for owning wireless devices, cellular phones and smart cellular phones according to the 2008 SRDS Lifestyle Market Analyst. Contra Costa County Library serves residents countywide with 25 locations, 3 Library-a-Go-Go book dispensers, and online library services available 24/7 at ccclib.org. Last year almost 4 million people visited the Contra Costa County community libraries and checked out over 6 million items.
The BALIS Innovation program provides funding toward the implementation of ideas or programs that offer a new service model or bring a fresh interpretation to existing library service models.