Purpose - This paper aims to consider the use of technologies including GPS, QR codes and RFID tags to personalize the learning environments in academic libraries. Design/methodology/approach - It reports on the use of QR codes at the University of Huddersfield, including information on how the QR codes have been received by users. It also outlines other technologies used elsewhere and reported in the professional literature. Findings - The paper finds that, although location-aware technologies are being used, for most libraries they are impractical. Instead, one could use QR codes (which have significant barriers to their use) or preferably RFID tags (already widely used for other purposes) to create smarter libraries. Practical implications - Libraries are increasingly using RFID tags in their stock, occasionally as part of library or campus smart cards as well. When considering how to use, or justify the cost of, RFID tags in libraries, one should also consider the potential additional benefits outlined in this article. Originality/value - While most of the technologies described have been used in experimental ways within libraries, no one has yet used RFID tags for much more than stock circulation and control. This is the first paper to suggest using them to access the wealth of data in order to personalize the learning environments of our libraries.