Instant Ideas and Collaboration

#uklibchat summary – Mobile Tech in Libraries – July 2014

A summary of our joint chat on with #SLAtalk on Mobile Tech in Libraries is now available.

Our joint chat with #SLAtalk brought together librarians from both sides of the pond to discuss Mobile Tech in Libraries. It was a lively chat bringing together a lot of ideas for the future, as well as informative on how libraries are already using mobile technology.

In the following summary, I’ve tried to group responses together, however it was a very active talk, and several threads of conversation happened off the #uklibchat hashtag, I have left a few things out that seemed disjointed, or if they didn’t fit too well into the question asked.

If you are interested, an archive of the chat can be found here  (Note: the archive will not include anything tweets that were not tagged wtih #uklibchat)

Q1. Describe your vision of the library or information center in 2020. For example, what’s changed and what hasn’t?

How essential is mobile tech? What uses do you see for near-field communication (NFC)/RFID, and is this tech integrated everywhere? And so-on. Have fun with this one!

There were a lot of ideas for this question, which I’ve tried to pull together

Mobile tech in libraries was seen by some as crucial, something that needed to be incorporated into the library, especially if libraries wanted to keep up with what users were using. Not only should libraries be keeping up with technology, they should be keeping ahead, librarians need to be more proactive. As well as that library needed to get the basics right, such as good wi-fi, libraries should provide charging stations for devices.   @kinthelibrary mentioned the need to strike the right balance between doing things ourselves and working with the right apps and companies.

@OAjoe predicted that everyone would have a light-weight iPad like device and that interface would be web-based. There was talk about how websites would have better mobile sites  that are device agnostic. User interface design will be very important and also difficult to design for all the different screen sizes.

@tranlib saw the library being interegrated into research groups.

@agentk23 thinks, there’s the potential that you could check out books with your own devices, and maybe even something unexpected like drones delivering library books.

@sla2014tips pointed out that 2/3 of Millennials don’t have a landline so there is a need for more library services for smart phones. @sla2014tips also mentions how mobile libraries is widening the digital divide, either socio-economically or by age

@MarkJISC mentions that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is turning into Bring Your Own Network (BYON) and this has implications on students first point of contact with library services.

There was also talks of hopes of seeing more joined-up initiatives, such as a national library card, or  a national e-book collection that each public library pays into. In academic libraries, more could be done with joint electronic purchases/subscriptions.

There was a bit of talk about patron information being used to drive more personalised services, but there are issues around data and user privacy in doing this.

@stanfordF mentions the importance of videos in libraries, and made a prediction “2025= @Google contact lenses streaming library resources directly to retina”

@markJISC believes we should be planning for wearable devices.

@LACrossley reckons that info would no longer be commercialised, but open access for the public good.

Q2. Does your library or information center have a “mobile-ready” approach to delivering online resources?

  • a.       Please share, or share your ideas for incorporating one from scratch
  • b.      if you already have one, what have you learned (and perhaps what have you learned the hard way)?

@stanfordF: We partnered w/ @OverDriveLibs to provide #ebooks for patrons. Drew many new users who never use our physical space.

@coplibrarian: I don’t think we’re there yet. We have begun to think of these types of things and have a mobile ready webpage. We also are already lending tablets and have purchased a mobile charging station to be operational by fall. Right now we have some specific professors requiring tablets for group projects. Working well so far.

@coplibrarian: acquire some tablets for the staff to just “play with.” Best way to learn is to just jump right in.

@desiraeSweet: recent site redesign = responsive. But our ebrary/ other ebook platforms not great for mobile

@libmichelle: Seen a rise in students using tablets rather than laptops though, we help w/ whatever device they bring.

@duannemorrislib: Our library is mobile ready in the sense that we are one of few private law firm libraries with a Twitter handle!

@agentk23: Libraries need to employ staff with the skills needed to create mobile ready info. Library IT staff is necc.  University of East London will be giving out tablets to all 1st year students.

@724PhillipsK: We are about to start our iPad lending program. 5 for now, we’ll see how it goes! All will be wiped clean at each return

@LACrossley: We subscribe to Zinio e-magazines, which look great on tablets…has brought tons of extra (virtual) footfall

@stanfordF Agreed: we lerve @zinio here esp. since they have a deep archive. Similarly, @NextIssue is a great deal.

@englib: we have a self-checkout kiosk w/ iPads for our users. Circ went up 140% (iPad Kiosk). Nova Southeastern U- Heath Sc Library in FL is checking out iOS apps to students

@kinthelibrary: As a solo (w/o a lot of tech support) I’m relying on our vendors for mobile dev. Tends to tie us to specific devices.

@kinthelibrary: I’m seeing more platforms creating cloud-access sites. Could see mobile sites that way soon. #slatalk #uklibchat

@greemjimll: Academic library mobile apps/websites might be better as part of larger institutional mobile offering. Eg lecture & exam times. BYOD is a tidal wave that isn’t worth swimming against. Esp. if it reduces capital costs of equipment purchase. From a networking PoV, wireless is a double edged sword. Popular but difficult & expensive to scale to large user bases.

What might be needed for BYOD?

@greenjimll Decent wifi, good help desk and enforceable AUP for starters…AUP = Acceptable Use Policy. It might be BYOD but its still our/JANET’s network. Cpyright, spam, harassment, etc

There was discussion of whether using e-platforms to access library services would lead to less use of physical space for resources, but this may lead to space being used for different purpose instead, such as collaboration space, or makerspace, and the issue raised of librarians  being asked to do more, but with reduced salaries and reduced budgets.

Q3. Get to know your users:

what can you envision them wanting to do on their mobile devices? What would you like to offer via mobile? What are some barriers to becoming mobile-ready in this way?

@coplibrarian: Full service . . . everything and anything. Offer: geo-location of materials? Have your device lead you to the material on the shelf? Barriers: bandwidth, reliable wi-fi connection.

@Bev_peters:  like suggestion in Micks paper to use mob tech for access to buildings

@ces43: Imagine users taking device to shelf, scanning book and having suggestions of other sources to use

@duanemorrislib: Many courts are not tech savvy yet and therefore print material still reigns for some things.

@kinthelibrary Some very cool things happening around academic apps (e.g. the Loeb app in classics).

@OAjoe: Anything to excite the senses. Watch, read, hear, touch, play games (but no smell/taste.) No smell-o-vison yet.

@nansecc:  Seen cats link to maps – waiting for ones that use GPS to actually guide you, like a sat nav.

@agentk23:  articles being html, not pdf, and note taking ability (sharability too maybe?)

@bev_peters: Our students can [print from their own laptops]MyPrint mobile. They send printing to email address and retrieve printing in library

@shinyshona: We could print from own laptops @UCDLibrary – was probably my favourite service!!

@sla2014tips: Another thing to remember is marketing. Patrons need to know that staff/library has tech to use. Change perceptions.

Another barrier that was mentioned was staff familiarity with mobile devices,  staff ought to be consulted about use of tech so that is a collaboration rather that enforced, and they need to be given time to learn how to use mobile devices.

Q4. Which vendors/vendor partners do you know that are currently supporting your drive to become mobile-ready?

Companies and products that were mentioned include:  SolusUK, Browzine, Springshare Libguides and Libchat, EBSCO, LexisNexis.

@LACrossley: @solusuk Have a fantastic lib app for patrons

@OAjoe: I know that LibGuides has a reasonably good mobile interface.

@Desiraesweet responded with: have had issues w/Springshare’s LibChat mobile functionality and been surprised (operator and user ends)

@elainelibrarian: Browzine- puts current awareness TOC and articles on your mobile

@724PhillipsK: EBSCO seems to be somewhat mobile friendly. Several of our students use their app to access our resources.

@DesiraeSweet:personally set RSS alerts from @EBSCO + other databases/journals, all routed to my @feedly acct – they have good app

@librarysherpa: Some vendors aren’t necessarily supporting mobile ready. They are out-pacing what law firms can do with technology.

@LACrossley:  Main issue is around copyright laws, publishers and e-books. When law is updated, publishers’ will collab w/ vendors

@SLA2014tips: @LexisNexis seems to be further ahead on ebooks than other vendors I’ve seen. But, not quite where I’d like them to

@soccerbrarian: Some legal vendors provide mobile access to current awareness titles, but attorneys don’t ask for it…yet

@agentk23: I wished that everyone made it easier to gather stats on things, harder to justify when stats are vague/scant

Q5. What non-library uses of mobile tech can we learn from?

@stanfordF: @yalelawlibrary has a “Scan on Demand” service borrowing from the @Amazon delivery model http://t.co/HiBjV34xZG

@agentk23 :Click and Collect? Books sent to where it’s convenient to pick up like in train stations and supermarkets.

@Mickfortune says: Many RFID suppliers offer this – but expensive!!

@stevenhewyood: bin lorries have tablets so can be alerted to missed collections, traffic alerts, etc. — library outreach, housebound, etc    [missed collections alerts work] usually in response to customer ‘phone call – some ring before the lorry’s out of the street – and an IM is sent to the crew…

@LACrossley: Supermarkets use stock checking devices – to order more stock when shelves run low. Could use 1 2 top up our displays.Programmable NFC stickers… Could set devices to silent on entering the lib.

@724PhillipsK: Using them for staff/patron training like @Hallmark does with their new hires maybe.

@coplibrarian:# Geo-caching or geo-locating?

@jackoliver40: National Trust / English Heritage do some good stuff with mobile tech e.g. recording information onto playback device

@kinthelibrary:Public health is starting to look at tools/manuals as standalone apps (again: increased functionality over access).

@bev_peters: FaceTime , Skype etc to support academic Supp skills part timers etc

@shinyshona: Those pop-ups that come up on some shopping sites asking if you need help and then drift down to corner. Those on catalogue.

@libmichelle Perhaps mobile tech can be used to enhance services for specific users eg lib guides for blind people?

Douglas Coupland Exhibition in Vancouver was cited as a good example by @libmichelle: App has extra info on pieces w/in exhibition, including commentary from artist, curators, external experts.

@englib: I’m curious about TecTiles and how we can use them in libraries.

@mickfortune thinks that Tectiles has: Great potential but not compatible with existing RFID so additional investment needed.

A question that came out of this was whether the automaton of library work by copying companies like amazon etc, would lead to reduction of library staff.


Q6.  Do you (or any staff member) use a tablet provided for by your  library/organisation (roving for example)  What brand do you use? And do staff like it?

iPads was the tablet device being used the most (maybe due to their early dominance of the tablet market), and they are being used in a variety of manner, for teaching, for roving, for meetings, for learning.

@jackoliver40:  iPads for roving support. Half love it half hate it! Excellent for quick access to web links. Currently developing

@coplibrarian: Whether or not the staff “like” the tablet is mixed. Some do, some do not.

This lead onto a bit of a discussion on how to make it seem integral to staff roles

@coplibrarian: I think the best way may be to mentor and model the usefulness. Give them good examples.

@724PhillipsK: I was given an iPad and I use it for some services…mobile chat, electronic signage. I also use my iPad when I teach ENG classes and LOVE it for that. GradeBook Pro, Remind 101Sock Puppets, Evernote, Inspiration Maps, Prezi, Socrative, those are some examples of apps. I use it in place of a computer most of the time, so I also access the internet

@libmichelle: Would like a device to take to meetings, esp faculty board as lots of papers. Would save paper + time

@englib: most lib and staff here have iPads of various generations. Offered (long term loan) to those that request them

@agentk23: staff have been borrowing uni tablet for conferences, but shared device means there are some issues

@desiraesweet: My work-issued iPad=helpful for internal/admin- note taking/doc review @ meetings, email/calendar away frm office

@soccerbrarian: We also use iPad for email reference ?s when in meetings or working in a satellite library.

@teeclassroom:We have Apple TVs in our building, so that helps with classroom use

@mickfortune: Apple not supporting NFC yet so could not interact with stock for example.

It was mentioned that the Royal College of Nursing Library used a Window based tablet,  @amycrossmenzies used android tablet at work.


Q7.What would be useful for library staff to know or learn re mobile tech?

@724PhillipsK: Quick troubleshooting to answer patron questions, new apps to suggest.

@coplibrarian: Basic functionality so that they have the ability to assist patrons when required. Navigating the lib mobile apps.

@nancecc: I think it’s as much about encouraging mobile tech familiarity and experimentation than specifics.

@mickfortune made this point: True! But keeping informed can help avoid some bad decisions.

@amycrossmenzies: for us in academic library think be useful to know more what r really popular uses of mobile tech for our lib members

@724PhillipsK: We do brown-bag ‘app’ luncheons for faculty once a month and will be opening them to students in the fall. App sharing!  [ how does it work?] Low key. Just meet and discuss new app finds or troubleshoot group-style.

@bev_peters: maybe involve staff in choice of apps and pilot them .

@kinthelibrary:  Make sure you’re not just training staff once! If it’s not a daily tool, they’ll need refreshers (and apps change fast). To an earlier point, I think it’s easier to sell responsive web design than apps – not locked in to a specific device

@shinyshona: Could get a group of staff competing on a learning app eg Duolingo – demos how games & learning go together

@librarysherpa:Gadgets in the Library: A Practical Guide to Personal Electronics for Librarians


Q8. How do you justify the need to bring mobile technology into your information organization as far as the expense is concerned?

A key justification that came out is that we need to know what are users are using to be able to support them and remain relevant.

@724PhillipsK: our justification is that our students will need the knowledge in the workforce, so we, as a com and TECH college need to provide all resources possible to grow our students’ knowledge bases

@Bev_peters: and often organisations that are well ahead of us using technology. Maybe could learn something from them!

@coplibrarian: It is all about staying up-to-date with the world (users, patrons, etc.) and having a service orientation.

And, you want to stay relevant to your users on your users’ level. These technologies keep advancing, we’ve got to stay in the game.

@kinthelibrary: We’re in a lot areas with unreliable internet, so for us using mobile networks is a big selling point around access. Mobile network is not using exclusively, but to supplement. Our org’s IT lends 3G drives/international cells that bill to office. Local staff are already using their own plans as it’s reliable than their internet access.

@JayeLapachet:  If DS’ high school is anything to go by I would say none. Virtually no support despite their dictation of device we bought

@shinyshona: Access from home most desired service according to int. LibQUAL findings – mobile access is inevitably part of that #uklibchat




About Ka-Ming

Librarian at a University in London and one of the founding members of uklibchat.wordpress.com Find me @agentk23

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This entry was posted on July 28, 2014 by in Discussion Summaries and tagged , , .


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