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Peta J. Hopkins
Also Published in: Australian Library Journal, 64(1)
Libraries are often hailed as the cultural and learning hub of their communities. To deepen community engagement and social inclusion, libraries are adopting new technologies to facilitate a participatory and learning culture. With market saturation of smartphones and tablets and their associated apps, new affordances for content creation, curation and sharing show great potential to enhance participatory culture. The typical smartphone or tablet now incorporates digital technologies such as geo-location, audio, video, photo and web technologies. Bringing these technologies into a single device has enabled the development of apps such as Instagram, HistoryPin and SoundCloud. It has also changed the way users engage with established social networks and photo-sharing sites. Users can now create and share content on an unprecedented scale from any accessible Wi-fi or mobile phone network. Libraries are embracing these technology-rich apps to interact with their customers in many different ways. Examples in this article examine how libraries are taking up opportunities enabled by the convergence of technologies into mobile devices in the participatory culture context – tapping into new communities, engaging with their stakeholders in meaningful ways, enhancing their social impact and transforming their essential roles in today’s knowledge society.
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