This Austrian Town Didn't Have a Library, So It Turned Itself Into One

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 10 2012 12:29 PM

Austrian Town Turns Itself Into Virtual Library

virtual public library
Stickers outfitted with NFC tags let you download classic ebooks that are relevant to local landmarks.

Image courtesy of Project Ingeborg

The Austrian city of Klagenfurt lacked a main public library. So it turned itself into one.

An initiative called Project Ingeborg has placed 70 stickers equipped with QR codes and NFC chips in various locations around the town, Engadget reports. When you hold your smartphone up to one, it sends your browser to a website where you can download a free literary classic via Project Gutenberg or a similar public-domain service.

Advertisement

Here's the cool part: In many cases, the book is relevant to the location where you can download it. So, according to the Project Ingeborg website, you can download a famous play about a man's quest for salvation near the Cathedral, or a short story called "The Murderer" near the police station. And there are plans to expand the project beyond books, to include reference information, music, and works of art.

The goal, the website says, is twofold: to highlight a new use for NFC technology, and to call attention to what it calls "anachronistic" copyright laws that keep books out of the public domain for 70 years.

The project's creators are right that most NFC technology so far "lacks a concrete benefit for the end user," and Project Ingeborg is a great example of how that could change. While the aim of promoting works in the public domain is admirable, I'm guessing this way of using the technology will end up having plenty of private-sector applications too. At best, it seems like it could result in something like Google Glass without the glasses—if these stickers were smartly applied all around your city, you could hold your smartphone up to any landmark or business and instantly learn about it, without having to walk around looking like an evil cyborg dweeb.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 30 2014 1:23 PM What Can Linguistics Tell Us About Writing Better? An Interview with Steven Pinker.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.