Let’s Make a List: Foursquare in Libraries

Back in June, I read a piece about how the Brooklyn Museum is using Foursquare to make connections among visitors to the facility. I wondered whether other institutions, particularly libraries, have done something similar–designated an entire web page to Foursquare activities.

So I tweeted a Google doc and asked how libraries are using Foursquare. The limited response suggests that either no one is reading my tweets, or not many libraries in my network are using Foursquare (or both). In any case, here are the replies I received:

  • My first introduction to Foursquare was through a webinar sponsored by the Connecting to Collections Initiative given by Nancie Ravenel of the Shelburne Museum in VT and blogger Colleen Dilenschneider.  Shelburne uses Foursquare, but to my knowledge, it is not incentivized.
  • Surprise giveaways: Via Twitter/Facebook, first five people to check in get an ebook
  • We give away a flash drive or other small techie prize to the first 10 people to check in.
  • Our public library gives prizes to people who check in on certain days or at events. We’ve gotten more people to show up for certain programs this way–giving away ebooks, signed book copies or other autographed materials to people who check in at author events or other programs.

  • You can give out things with library logo/slogan (shirts, iPad/iPod covers?, totes, pens/pencils, mousepads, mugs, calendars, etc.)

If these replies and the several tweets I received are any indication, awarding users with schwag appears to be the prominent use of Foursquare in libraries.

Care to add to the list? Have you found more creative ways to use Foursquare in the library or other institution? How successful have your programs proven? How have they failed? Please share.


About Steven V. Kaszynski
librarian, editor, contributor

6 Responses to Let’s Make a List: Foursquare in Libraries

  1. Ian says:

    Hi. Over at Voices for the Library I recently set up a Foursquare account to highlight libraries that are marked for closure in the hope of people to visit them and thus improve their footfall (although this is a weak measure it is one that authorities rely on). I have also submitted a request for a ‘library lover’ type badge but have had no luck so far.

    I certainly think libraries should explore its potential for promoting the library service, as should be the case with all social networks to be honest.

  2. Chris D. says:

    Looks like Ian is taking a somewhat different tack, which is really cool. I hope that they find some success with that! It seems a bit unreal that Foursquare could help save a library from closure, but those unreal ideas are often the ones that surprise us later.

    My library does what most of the others do. We give away stuff for people checking in. It’s nice and takes basically no effort.

    • Ian says:

      Thanks Chris! Not sure if it will have an impact but thought it was worth exploring to see if it can help. We use a number of social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Delicious, Flickr), and I’m always keen to see how we can use other tools to help our campaign.

  3. Thanks for checking in, gentlemen. I’m curious what libraries are doing in the way of rewards outside the realm of library schwag and flash drives. For instance, why not offer to wipe out overdue fines for check-ins on a random basis? If everyone knows your library is always cancelling fines and giving stuff away on the fly, perhaps they choose to check in more often.

    Another fairly simple way your public library can use Foursquare is to work with community partners to reward check-ins with things like movie tickets, college performance tickets, gift cards, coffee, etc. Anyone who offers a product or service can be a library partner. I would imagine, too, that academic libraries are involved with Foursquare-based programs with other campus shops and services and community partners. Seems to me that Foursquare can be a great way to help connect all these dots.

  4. Yeah, mostly it’s just schwag that libraries are offering on Foursquare. I love the idea about working with community partners for prizes.

    Here are some responses from when I posed the question a few months ago: http://mrlibrarydude.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/game-on-social-media-ideas-prizes-for-libraries/

    I know one big problem for my library (academic, part of a state system), is we are strictly limited in using funds for “prizes,” etc by state gov’t regulations… So we have to be creative when it comes to that.

    • Thanks, Joe. That’s an interesting topic in itself–regulatory differences among public and private universities where these types of programs are concerned. How are we limited not only in our partnerships with community agencies, but in our shared reward programs among different campus departments that rely on book, ticket, and food sales? What is the extent the different institution types can use Foursquare? I’d read that one.

      Thanks also for the link. Very useful stuff there.

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