How Augmented Reality Can Enhance Your Library Experience

Ask your librarian if AR is available at your library!

Explore library collections in a whole new way, thanks to AR technology.

In an increasingly digital age, libraries have become not just brick-and-mortar institutions but online ones as well. With the rising prevalence of augmented reality (AR) technology, though, the physical and digital spaces that are the library have begun to overlap more and more, often with surprising benefits. Here’s everything you need to know about what augmented reality is, why libraries are adopting it, and how some are already using it to improve their patrons’ experiences.

What Is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality, or AR, is essentially a virtual enhancement to the real world. Typically, it’s some sort of digital overlay seen through the camera of a smart device, with the overlay providing helpful information, tips, or even chances to engage with the overlay directly.

Although the technology has existed as far back as 1968, it has gained much more attention and popularity in recent years. Strangely enough, one of the greatest surges in popularity came from Niantic’s wildly popular Pokémon GO back in 2016. Because of the game’s immense popularity, more and more people have begun to recognize augmented reality as the invaluable tool it is, paving the way for its implementation in the workplace, our personal lives, and, of course, in the library.

The Evolving Nature of the Library

Naturally, you may be wondering why libraries are embracing AR technology in the first place. After all, they’re already doing just fine without it, aren’t they? Ultimately, though, libraries’ adoption of AR goes back to the fact that, as an institution, the library’s role is constantly changing and evolving with the times, so the libraries themselves must do the same.

Take, for example, the period in which personal computers became available to the public. Although anyone could purchase one, there weren’t nearly as many who could actually afford to do so. Public libraries, however, adopted them very quickly, providing computer access to their patrons and digitizing their systems. This continued as libraries began providing internet access, integrating smartphones into the library experience, and opening up online libraries with e-books and audiobooks as the technology became available.

With each new technology adopted, libraries' roles have expanded to better serve the needs of their patrons, and their communities are all the better for it. All that to say, libraries are now embracing AR technology as another evolution of their role. Some have already fully integrated it, and the results are quite promising for all libraries that follow.

How Libraries Use AR Technology

So, how exactly are libraries using AR technology? This article from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions has covered it in much more depth, so we’d recommend giving it a look, but we’ll give you the run-down while you’re here.

Among the libraries pointed out in the article, there are two distinct ways in which AR technology is used. The first way, implemented in academic libraries like the University of Maryland Libraries and the University of California at San Diego Libraries, is to use AR to give information about the library’s resources and help patrons navigate those resources.

The second, used in the National Libraries of Korea and Sweden, completely transforms the library experience into that of a museum. Library resources are given historical context, specific items are explained and expanded upon, and guests are given a far better understanding of their nation’s libraries and the significance of their collections.

Needless to say, both approaches lead to a vastly improved library experience, and one we hope to see become more common in the coming years.

If you’re interested in learning more about how libraries have adopted new technologies in the past, how they’ll adapt to the technology of the future, and how they’ve made this technology available to everyone, feel free to visit us at EveryLibrary today!



Visit to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries. 

#librarymarketers: Enjoy this story? Want to use it for your library newsletter, blog, or social media? This article is published under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International and is free to edit and use with attribution. Please cite EveryLibrary on

This work by EveryLibrary is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0