Allen grant to help create smartphone app for libraries

The Washington State Library is a step closer to offering a smartphone application that will provide service to public library patrons thanks to a new grant provided by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

The foundation has announced it will support local libraries in Washington and Oregon with $1.35 million in funding this year as part of its newest grant cycle. The library grants will help improve library services and technological capabilities.

The foundation grant will provide the State Library with $200,000 that would pay for any public library in Washington to provide patrons with a free subscription to the app for one year.

State Librarian Rand Simmons had this to say about the grant:

“Libraries want to connect to their customers in every possible way. For this reason the Washington State Library is delighted to receive a $200,000 grant from Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which, in combination with federal Library Service and Technology funds, will develop a smartphone application to connect patrons to their public libraries. Once downloaded, this application will allow smartphone users to locate their local public library and then access its library services.”

Simmons said examples of services available through the smartphone app would be library hours and library calendar of events. The app would allow access by library patrons to their library accounts. Easy access to online library resources such as downloadable eBooks and audiobooks, library subscription databases, library social media platforms, and the like would also be provided, Simmons added.

The LSTA grant will be used to develop the smartphone app. WSL staff will review bids from vendors. State Library staff expects the bid process will end in February and staff hopes the app will be available to patrons by December 2013.

In addition to the State Library, several local libraries in Washington received grant money from the Allen Family Foundation: Burlington Library Foundation, King County Library System Foundation, Kitsap Regional Library Foundation, Online Computer Library Center in Seattle, Pierce County Library Foundation, Port Townsend Public Library Foundation, Seattle Public Library Foundation and Walla Walla Public Library.

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