I saw this story on Slate and immediately thought of libraries:
It’s an app called Card Case, and it’s made by Square, the brilliant payments company founded by Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey. Because Card Case runs on your phone, it may sound at first like the same clunky, phone-and-pay-pad systems being peddled by other firms. But Card Case doesn’t let you pay with your phone; it lets you pay with your name. With this app, you go into a store, choose what you want to buy, and then tell the cashier your name. That’s it—you’ve just paid. You don’t have to pull out your phone, you don’t have to open the app, you don’t have to sign, swipe, or wait for change. As long as your phone is on your person while you’re in the store—in your pocket or your purse—Card Case can authorize your payment without you having to do a thing.
The idea is that you could walk up to the circulation desk with a pile of library materials, tell the circulation person your name, they check out the materials (bonus points for RFID magic), and you walk out. Yes, it only works with a smartphone so not everyone will have it, but I believe integration with virtual wallet programs such as this app or near field communications are a viable future for the library card. Eliminate the hassle of issuing cards and it is one less item to worry about for the library member and staff.
People might not be interested in reading on their phones, but I bet they would be happy to use their phone as their library card.
Here’s my much earlier post about rethinking library cards.