By now, it’s likely clear to you that our group is working on a mobile application for use amid the stacks. Given this fact, another area we’d do well to look at would be standout examples of libraries—especially academic libraries—at the forefront of mobile app integration. For my part, I found said examples, and in doing so consulted a wide range of sources—American Library Association, Coalition for Networked Information, Library Journal, and Elsevier’s Library Connect, to name those on which I eventually settled. Based on the findings for this literature review, it seems that the past two years especially have seen a rapid increase in research, writing, presentations, conferences, and plain ol’ discussion about how libraries can make space for, and be creative with, mobile technology.
In “The History of Information Science and Other Traditional Information Domains: Models for Future Research,” William Aspray offers excellent reasoning for library professionals’ heightened conversation regarding mobile technology: “We increasingly live in a world that is technology driven, and to study the information domains without paying close attention to those domains most closely associated with information technology is to see the world with blinders” (Aspray). He goes on to note, “Technology influences the nature of work.”
Think about it: how often do you use apps via your iStuff or your Smartstuff to map a location, read a restaurant review, make a grocery list, or take a picture? For many of us, mobile apps have changed the ways in which we go about our daily routines, not to mention the ways in which we store, send, remember (and forget!) information. And the students with whom we’ll work in academic libraries—I’m thinking here of both undergraduates and graduate—likely rely on their mobile technology far more than do most LIS 501ers. Point being: our future as library and information professionals depends on a) our understanding of how information-seeking behaviors have changed with the advent of mobile technology, and b) how well we can adapt mobile technology to fit the needs of library users.
At last year’s American Library Association Annual Conference, mobile apps were widely discussed. Mentioned in David Rapp’s “ALA Annual 2011: Top Tech Trends: Apps on the Upswing” were Oregon State University and North Carolina State University, both for their incorporation of academic course resources into mobile apps. And if you’ll recall, a major tenet of the ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship requires that we, as librarians, put to use “…principles and techniques necessary to identify and analyze emerging technologies and innovations in order to recognize and implement relevant technological improvement” (4D, “ALA Core Competences…). Not only is it our responsibility to remain up-to-date on technology such as mobile apps, it’s also our responsibility to mold and present information for best use via said technology. With that in mind, I offer a few highly informative pieces that highlight academic libraries’ mobile app creations—examples that our group might aspire to in constructing Stack Tracks.
Mentioned in Lisa Carlucci Thomas’s “Gone Mobile? (Mobile Libraries Survey 2010),” DukeMobile has proved to be a boon to Duke University libraries and their patrons. Though Library Connect‘s line of questioning with Web Designer Sean Aery and Digital Collections Program Coordinator Jill Katte is succinct, the responses given by Aery and Katte are informative. They’re also a great prep/overview for the YouTube video created by Duke University Libraries as a demonstration of DukeMobile’s capabilities. Aery and Katte articulate examples of DukeMobile aids library users, while the video demonstration provides a thorough how-to of the app.
An extensive presentation of several mobile projects at North Carolina State University, Tito Sierra’s PowerPoint stands as an invaluable example of the varied ways in which mobile apps might/can be of help to library and information professionals in their work with library patrons. Sierra’s “Guiding Principle” slides are must-reads for anyone thinking of (and for those preparing to) build useful mobile apps. Plenty of pictures—excellent here as clear examples—and minimal text make this PowerPoint a useful, necessary tool.
Lisa Carlucci Thomas’s Mobile Libraries Survey for Library Journal covers a great deal of ground in a clear, no-nonsense manner. With examples of academic libraries that have taken great strides in mobile technology—Duke University, the University of Oregon, and Yale University, to name a few—and data presented in useful charts and graphs, Thomas’s survey is a good comprehensive picture of where mobile technology is, and where it’s headed. The subheads/divisions here are helpful as well—Budgets, Priorities, Skills, Perception, etc. Thomas addresses both the benefits and challenges of working with mobile technology, while also discussing possibilities for future funding and implementation of all things mobile.