Potential for Blockchain in Libraries

Libraries might be playing with blockchain sooner than we thought!

Blockchain began as a way to power cryptocurrency. A blockchain uses a network of computers that share resources. The network is used to transmit data and record each transaction in a permanent ledger. It’s harder to hack because each transaction request has to go through multiple, in-network verification points before a transaction goes through. This is more secure than having transactions route through a central financial institution, like a bank.

Cryptocurrency exists only online. It can only be used within a blockchain meant for that cryptocurrency. Only certain online sellers accept cryptocurrency. Essentially, cryptocurrency transactions are just the movement of data. A block is a set of verified transactions that is added to a larger chain for posterity and digital security.

Right now, companies everywhere are researching how to leverage blockchain for  record keeping, digital voting, medical recordkeeping, and possibly for libraries! Libraries are chock full of electronic records, metadata, catalogs, and all sorts of data that is shifted and needs to be tracked for posterity.

Blockchains can track version changes to records, timestamp original records and later iterations, track digital points of origin, record the librarian who originally entered the metadata, and allow for easier data sharing across institutions. Imagine access to a secure network of global resource sharing. Only those with a special encryption key would be able to alter the data.

The potential for positive change is at our fingertips. It just takes a bit of experimentation.

Here are some links to learn more:

What is Blockchain? The Most Disruptive tech in decades (Computer World)

Uses for Blockchain in Libraries (San Jose State University)

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