Mobile Technologies at the University of Wollongong

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Libraries as service providers are always talking about need. …

Libraries as service providers are always talking about need.
The library’s need to make access to its content easier in a constantly changing environment....the user or client’s need to get to the content & find services that will enable them to do so. But what do we really mean by "need"? Is it even about that? Maybe instead it’s about listening.. like really listening to a client’s story and what they are telling us about their
• Challenges
• Capabilities
• Context
• Expectations
• Predicaments
These are the things we were listening for. At times, while developing these services, we have created support services which are focused on mobile users, not on mobile *device* users. The UOW strategy for mobile technology has been focused our clients, and how we can improve access and experiences.

Our adoption of technologies is driven by our interactions with clients, as well as by looking at things like the Library Cube (S4), and seeing how usage trends will impact on clients and their expectations for learning spaces.

We know we have good content, but in order to remain useful and relevant to clients, we have to ensure that accessing what we provide is easily accessible at the point of need, and the point of interest.

An increasing number of staff and postgraduate students in Academic Outreach and Research Consultation meetings mentioned working on mobile devices, including tablets and wishing to improve their user experience with research.
Just because we are the point of access, doesn’t mean that we have to be the point of duplicated discovery and dual navigation.

One of the first things we did was to add in mobile access links to the existing list of databases. Instead of expecting clients to navigate to a separate page to access mobile links, they’ve been embedded into existing pages to enable user discovery without exploration.

We’re still enabling access to resources, but removing unnecessary navigation, & moving Library resources into their existing practices and browsing behaviour, instead of expecting our clients to discover or rediscover using our website.

By using things like the proxy bookmarklet and using LibX for UOW Library clients, we're able to add a Library presence to spaces we’ve never been able to participate in before. Whether it’s Wikipedia, Reddit, Facebook, or the text of a PDF document, LibX allows our clients to highlight text, & right click to immediately search the Library for related resources.

But none of this would be possible without Library staff who are willing to change their patterns of behaviour, learn new things, and interact with clients in new ways. Without understanding, or willingness to participate, even at a basic level, new things cannot succeed.

When we began the online reference and feedback service in 2006 & we've seen the number of online enquiries jump from 641 in that year to 1670 in 2011.

[presentation finishes with current/future

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  • 1. Ask a Librarian