Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 3: Mobile Apps in Library Programs

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 3: Mobile Apps in Library Programs

Article excerpt


Chapter 3 of Library Technology Reports (vol. 50, no. 8), "Selecting and Evaluating the Best Mobile Apps for Library Services, " gives ideas for using mobile apps in library programs and services. Ideas include creating online app guides, loaning tablets with apps, holding author events (interactive e-books), hosting app discussion groups, inviting local experts who can showcase the use of apps, incorporating apps in library instruction, recommending content-creation apps to your users, and hosting community events for creating apps.

Online App Guides

A good way to get started with recommending mobile apps to your community is to make a website for that purpose. When I worked for the MIT Libraries, we made a guide for the MIT community: "Apps for Academics: Mobile Web Sites and Apps," http://libguides It recommends apps in several categories: productivity, reading, library research, taking notes, writing, presenting, MIT-specific, music, and a resource guide listing relevant books and articles.

These sites were created with LibGuides, a web publishing tool that many libraries subscribe to. (1) LibGuides makes it easy to copy and modify a site (with permission), and many libraries have copied the MIT Libraries guide as a starting point for creating a guide for their community.

I would encourage you to think beyond the usual list of library database apps. There are so many apps that can help your community in all areas of their learning, and it makes sense for libraries to provide these recommendations. Showing the icon, along with a few sentences about each app, makes it easy to scan. If your library offers workshops about apps, your online app guide can be a good place to advertise it and to give to your users as a virtual handout when the workshop is over.

It's great to see that many libraries now have app guides, either as separate guides or integrated into subject or topical guides. No matter which website tool you use, it's useful to have a page that recommends the best apps for specific uses.

Loaning Tablets with Apps

Some libraries are making tablets available, either for use inside the library or for taking home. For example, the Brooklyn Public Library has a tablet-lending program. (2) See its site for details.

For some very useful information on the practical side of lending tablets, see the guide created for a workshop called Integrating iPads and Tablet Computers into Library Services. (3) It includes sample policies, sample user agreements, presentation slides, and an extensive article list.

The authors of that guide (Rebecca K. Miller, Carolyn Meier, and Heather Moorefield-Lang) have also put together an excellent blog for keeping up to date on this topic: iPads and Tablets in Libraries. (4)

If you would like to get inspired with ideas for a wide range of apps that would make sense to provide on your iPads or other tablets, see my online courses: Apps for Librarians and Educators, and The Book as iPad App. (5) These courses offer you a chance to spend time with the very best apps (watch the class video demos in order to decide which ones to purchase) and spark your thinking about the potential of these apps for education. (6)

Author Events

Libraries have long been in the business of hosting author events. Have you also considered inviting app developers or the authors of interactive book apps to speak at your library?

The world of books and apps is converging in interesting ways, and it may be more appropriate to think about "learning objects" rather than the traditional formats of book, movie, game, course, comic, magazine, or slideshow.

A good example of an interactive learning object is the award-winning multimedia app, CIA: Operation AJAX--The Interactive Graphic Novel for iPad. (7) This free iPad app is a great example of an interactive book that incorporates many different media types to tell the story of the CIA's role in a 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's government. …

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