Library app may save readers millions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 May, 2014, 4:45am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 May, 2014, 4:45am

A smartphone app for the city's libraries will be launched this summer, sending out reminders to borrowers to return books on time.

Library card holders can borrow up to eight books at a time at no charge, but are fined 50 cents to HK$1.50 per day for each item returned late.

According to Legislative Council records, more than four million library items a year were returned late from 2008 to 2010, with some HK$18 million to HK$20 million in fines collected every year.

After downloading the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's app, forgetful borrowers will receive messages telling them when their books are due for return.

Users will be told before the due date if their books have been reserved by other readers, meaning they will not be able to take them back out.

The app will also enable people to scan any book's QR code (similar to a barcode) to see whether it is available to borrow from public libraries. Library card holders can also reserve books via the app.

There are more than 13 million items available to borrow from the city's public libraries, which number 67 plus 10 mobile libraries.

The department's technicians are still fine-tuning the software before its launch, possibly in July or August this year.

Another application set to be launched by the department next month will make it easier to buy tickets for events and performances in Hong Kong on the Urban Ticketing System via smartphones. The app will be similar to the Urbtix website and will offer an additional channel for sales on top of the telephone hotline and Urbtix outlets.

Earlier this year, the Urbtix operator, Cityline, upgraded its website ticketing system to accommodate up to 2,000 users at one time - a tenfold increase in capacity over the previous system, which had been in use since 2006.