foursquare @ Darien Library 8

foursquareCheck-ins, badges, and becoming mayor have nothing to do with libraries and everything to do with the geolocation game foursquare…. well it did until some of the librarians here at Darien began hijacking our own venue (Darien Library).  We began checking in every time we came into work, closely monitoring who among us was crowned Mayor of Darien Library.  Possibly making snide comments to our new ruler – of course in good fun.

Then it dawned on us: Why are we checking in all the time when we could offer up this service to our users?

We began looking a little closer at it, finding out how we could build a whimsical program out of it that, yes, would be a little silly, but also potentially informative and rewarding.  foursquare allows users to add to-do’s to venues for individual use and tips for others who check-in.  What tips could we offer?

To our benefit, our cadre of staff foursquare users represents pretty much every department in the library: User Experience (UX), Teens, Technology, Knowledge and Learning Services (KLS), and Children’s.  Together we thought of 3 to 5 tips we could each offer up from our department.  For example, Teens has video games, UX puts together some great programming, KLS has a fabulous Bloomberg Terminal, and so on.  So when we thought of ideas and potential hurdles we all funneled them into our Google Wave and then filtered the good ideas off to the venue as tips.

We were left wondering about incentives.  foursquare is like twitter was in the beginning, popular for early adopters but seemingly useless for the rest of the population.  We wanted to invite our users to try a new technology, to not worry about the “silliness” of it at the beginning.  To do this we needed our incentive.  Because we can track who becomes Mayor of Darien Library we thought it best to give out a prize:  a fancy tote bag (a $25 value!).  Become Mayor, get a tote bag.  It’s that simple.

We’re going to evaluate this program over a two month period and see how it increases check-ins to our venue.  If we see it’s popular we’re going to think of other incentives we can offer.  If it bombs, hey, that’s ok.  It’s quick to implement and low maintenance – and we tried something new.

This idea was thought up by these fine folks:

  • Alex Hylton, Teen and Technology Services
  • Sarah Ludwig, Teen and Technology Services and Knowledge and Learning Services
  • Gretchen Caserotti, Children’s Services
  • Erica Leone, Reader’s Advisory
  • and myself, Kyle Jones, Knowledge and Learning Services
Kyle Jones, TTW Contributor

8 thoughts on “foursquare @ Darien Library

  • Jimmy the Geek

    I’d be interested in seeing the results of this venture, Michael. Foursquare is kinda silly in its concept & probably won’t make it for that reason, but it definitely has some value for libraries in engaging their patrons.

  • Justin Hoenke

    “foursquare is like twitter was in the beginning, popular for early adopters but seemingly useless for the rest of the population.”

    I totally agree with you on this one. Lots of my friends are making the comment “Who the heck cares if you’re the mayor of your supermarket”. I seem to recall lots of “140 characters? Bah! I don’t need that” when Twitter came out.

    I’m trying to get my teens to use foursquare but I am really only into the first stages of working out how to use. Thanks for this post. Really inspires me…

  • Shawn

    Great idea and major props for finding new ways to connect with your patrons. Silly? Maybe. I suspect the 200,000+ Fousquare users generating around 86,000 check-ins a day (TechCrunch #’s, not mine) are OK with the service. Sure, only a few are checking in at libraries, but that might be a few folks you would have otherwise missed. Keep up the good work!

  • kyle

    I’ll try to do a follow up post in a bit when we’ve done some reflection and processing.

    I think everything starts out as a little silly or unnecessary with these tech start-ups. It just takes a little bit of time for society to think differently about how they do things and interact on the Web. I’m glad the post is inspiring – that’s the best compliment I can ever receive after someone’s read my work 🙂

    Thanks for the props! Great stats – thanks for sharing that. I think you get our sentiment exactly – someone may come to the library simply because of this small project. That’s what we want: Newbies and returners enjoying our space.


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