Two words I thought I’d never see together: Library & Groupon

I must say I’m rather proud of the Edmonton Public Library — my local library. They were one of the first in Canada to:

  • offer free Wi-Fi to members,
  • jump into social media,
  • equip branches with self-checkout barscanners and RFID chip automated checkin,
  • allow online holds and media reservations,
  • create a mobile library app,
  • offer digital delivery of ‘loaned’ material.

And now they’re taking advantage of Groupon to offer discounts on membership renewals.

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dealdeets.jpgThis last initiative is just another step the library is taking to remain relevant, and stimulate membership by ‘being where the users are’, while magazines, newspapers and other forms of traditional media are being challenged by mobile internet technologies.

At the close of the offer, it looks like just under two thousand people bought in to the concept and bought $6.00 library cards — a steal, actually for all the services offered.

But mine can’t be the only forward-thinking library in Canada…got an example of your public library embracing tech? Write about it in the comments!

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Canadian Newspapers get an iPad App

Head.jpgEarlier this week several Canadian newspapers simultaneously launched a free iPad application focused on providing selected daily content from the print edition of the newspaper.

An iPaper?

Basically, the newspaper app really acts like Flipboard or Pulse in that it reformats the headlines, initial paragraph and perhaps a photo, for easy browsing, by section of the newspaper (News, Sports, etc). And, of course, there’s advertising — what newspaper would be complete without it? Happily it’s currently limited to smaller ads in the story, or full page ones at the end of stories.

Reads like a newspaper

Tap on a story on a main section page and the page reformats to display the entire story and images. Presentation can be tweaked a little bit by changing the font size, or rotating the orientation of the device, but that’s it. Pages are arranged in columns, similar to a newspaper layout, though on the iPad some stories will span a few pages.

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Innovation? Perhaps.

PostMedia, the developer of the application lists these as the main features of the app in their news release:

  • Heat Map – readers see and read “Stories Around Me” and check out which stories are most popular in their neighbourhoods and across the country
  • My Articles – saves and stores articles that users want to read later
  • Social Media Tools – the ability to comment live on stories and share with friends through Facebook, Twitter and email
  • Integrated Video Player – readers can view a variety of videos within articles
  • Photo Gallery – a wealth of high resolution photos and inline photo galleries

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For my money there are two neat features are My Articles, the ability to ‘save’ an article. Once you save a story it’s stored locally on your device to be read later.
As well, there’s a rather interesting Heat Map of ‘popular’ stories where a map is displayed with coloured dots overlaying your city — the ‘hotter’ the dot, the more that story was read in that area. I guess the intent is to show you what stories are hot in your area; an idea that has potential.

Likes

  • It’s free access to local and national news as curated by a bonifide news organization in your city.
  • Potential to be updated more often than the print edition, and available via your data connection when you want to read it. You don’t have to go to the corner store to get the latest news.
  • Download the latest edition for offline viewing.

Dislikes

  • You don’t get the content of the entire newspaper. According to the developer, “… feature customized newspaper content pulled from the best of the web and print editions as well as mobile specific content. Readers can download, save, comment, interact and customize the content, their way.”
  • No obvious way to search the content.
  • No way to print, or cut and paste content — which is available in the web editions through the tools integrated in the browser.

Will I use it?

Occasionally. It won’t be my ‘go-to’ app to find out what’s happening in my community, there are too many other live social media sources that give me the ‘now’. But if I need some indepth analysis or insight, I’ll boot up the app and see if the news I’m looking for falls into ‘the best of the web and print editions as well as mobile specific content.’ selected to be released to me for free.

Or maybe I’ll just Google it and see what the big G returns. It’s a tossup.[ad#Future Shop Post Attribution]