All of the sessions I attended at the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) annual conference earlier this month surprised me with how creatively librarians are using technology. One session in particular, "Tablet Slingin' Librarians," shared a number of creative uses for tablets.
Leah Kulikowski shared her experiences in improving library services with tablets at the Wamego Public Library in Kansas. One of the ways Wamego is using tablets is to accept credit card transactions from patrons for:
- Class fees
- Fines for late or lost books
- Summer reading programs
Kulikowski said that patrons have been very happy about the library taking credit cards. They don't have to stress about having cash in order to use some of the library's services. It's also easier on the staff, because then they don't have to turn away patrons from participating in a program or using a service!
We've written quite a bit about mobile payments over at TechSoup.org for nonprofits, but I actually hadn't heard of libraries using the technology. I thought I'd share some of the resources and tools TechSoup offers.
What You Need to Get Started
Wamego Public Library used Samsung Android tablets along with the Square card reader and platform. TechSoup offers a diverse range of discounted tablets, such as the Apple iPad 2 and the Lenovo IdeaTab Android tablet.
When choosing a mobile payment processing tool, make sure it is compatible with the operating system of the tablet you'll be using. Most tools are compatible with both Apple's iOS platform (iPads) and Google's Android OS.
In addition to Square, here are a few mobile payment processing tools, including some that are available through the TechSoup donation program:
- PayAnywhere (Android, BlackBerry, iOS) — Available from TechSoup
- Sage Mobile Payments (Android, BlackBerry, iOS) — Available from TechSoup
- Dharma Merchant Services (Any platform) — Available from TechSoup
- Intuit GoPayment (Android, iOS)
- PayPal Here (Android, iOS)
For a more in-depth look at these tools, check out TechSoup's Field Guide to Mobile Payments blog post.
Further Reading About Tablets and Mobile Payments
Do you use mobile payment tools at your library? Log in and tell us about what you use in the comments.