Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Mobile Solutions for Your Library

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Mobile Solutions for Your Library

Article excerpt


This chapter of Libraries and Mobile Services puts the information from the previous chapters into a library-specific context. By examining what different libraries have already done to provide mobile services and providing best practices and suggestions for future implementation, librarians gain a foundation for implementing or expanding services in their own facilities.


So, if the preceding chapters have been convincing, and you now understand that your library needs to begin strategizing for mobile access and delivery of services to mobile users, how do you start?

Become a Mobile-Only User

If you already have a mobile device of recent vintage, commit to using it as your primary device for accessing your library's site and systems. If you are an employee of an academic or special library or other library where you are not also a frequent patron, consider becoming a mobile-only user of your local public library.

Give it a week or two. Document the experience. Use your website, OPAC, licensed resources, reservation forms, chat service, guides, the works. Don't limit yourself to those systems created by your library. If your users access it through your website, you bear some responsibility for the user experience, whether it's within your control or not.

Keep track of those resources or systems that automatically detect your mobile device and either notify you of a mobile interface or direct you there automatically. You will likely find some instances where you hit dead ends or where you're unable to access files, pages, or systems. Note especially when user-facing interfaces or systems are challenging or impossible to navigate. Are there interfaces in which you consistently found yourself inadvertently hitting the wrong links or buttons? Systems that appear to serve up files that your device is unable to load? How much longer does it take you to complete tasks as compared to your usual workflow?


As discussed above, e-book readers are available for nearly every smartphone platform, and most of the applications are free to install. Commit to using one of these tools to read your next book. Choose one of the many free public-domain titles that are available in these applications. Or take the plunge in the name of research and buy an e-book from the Kindle, iBooks, or Nook store. If your library subscribes to OverDrive (figure 24) or another e-book platform, try it, not as a library staff member, but as a reader.

This may be a humbling or frustrating experience. It will be eye-opening. It may also have very positive aspects. Note if there are situations where your mobility allows you to accomplish tasks that you couldn't if you needed to be seated at your regular workstation.


Did you see another passenger on the bus or train reading a book that you'd been meaning to request? Were you able to request it at that very moment from your mobile device rather than hoping to remember once you got to your desk? Were you able to read on your mobile device long into the night without disturbing your partner with a bedside light?

Keep track of all your observations, both positive and negative, and share them with your colleagues. Encourage them to do the same. You will quickly be able to develop a list of areas where you should improve your mobile user experience.

Device Focus Group

Very few of us own or carry more than one current-generation mobile device, even gadget obsessives like your author (though once there's a contract-free Android equivalent of the iPod Touch, I expect that to change). The mobile device landscape is diverse, and becoming more so each day as new and worthy competitors to the established platforms enter the stage. So while our individual experiences with a single mobile device are instructive in creating a mobile strategy, they will not represent the diversity of our user base. …

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