Saturday, May 11, 2013

Developing a mobile strategy for the library

I was pretty late to the party with smart phones - my first and only was purchased in 2012, an iPhone 4. I still don't have an iPad and I'm not planning on getting one. I have my MacBook Air, my iPhone, and a Kindle and that does me nicely for now. But my mobile is the device I use the most. And the things it can do just blow me away.

I came across this webpage medical uses of the iPhone that showed how the iPhone is being used as an ECG monitor, a microscope, an ultrasound scanner, and an otoscope amongst other things. Wow. And most of this technology is not even expensive. I work in an tertiary institution that offers degrees in health science, and our budget is always tight, especially for medical equipment. We have a dire need for more microscopes and otoscopes - perhaps these developments could solve our problems?

So I've been thinking about libraries and mobile devices lately. We're working on a project to get our library website optimised for viewing on mobile devices. Well, not only that. We'd also like to make use of the portability and the ease/speed of use of mobiles to make it super easy for library users to carry out common library tasks such as searching the catalogue and databases, renew books, check the referencing guide and so on.

Doing the research for the project has been fascinating! One thing I found that I will definitely be returning to is the American Libraries Live website. Dan Freeman had the idea of discussing a trending library topic each month with a panel of experts, recording it, and making it available to the connected world. Thanks! I watched a live recording of an interview between Dan Freeman and some knowledgeable library folk on the topic of Mobile Services: The Library in Your Pocket. Good stuff here!

A couple more American sites and blogposts:

Library websites adapt to smartphone growth discusses responsive website design and adapting the website to prioritise the most common tasks usually done on the particular device.

The mobile challenge: The user experience focuses on how libraries may have responsive web design but if the transition to the catalogue or the database pages are not smooth, the user will not be satisfied with the experience.

More to come on this as our project develops...