How Mobile Changed My Life … and Will Change Yours, Too


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Presentation for "Innovation in Libraries: Mobile, Real-time Librarians" event at Queens Library, NY, 11/3/2009.

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  • “How Mobile Changed My Life … and Will Change Yours, Too” – Lisa Carlucci Thomas
  • We live in a time where mobile technologies are receiving a lot of attention, and the emphasis on mobile library services is increasing.    Mobile services, designed to reach users via cell phones or smart phones, are rapidly gaining popularity and changing attitudes and expectations of library users.  This is especially true at the intersection of information and access, creating an imperative for libraries to “go mobile.”  How will libraries, and librarians, adapt to lead in the mobile information environment?  Understanding how mobile is changing our personal and professional interaction with information is essential to this dialogue, and critically important when considering how to develop new programs and services for mobile users. In this presentation, I will share my experiences as a librarian, information professional, and information consumer in the evolving mobile world; describe how the advancement of mobile technologies has affected these aspects of my life, and offer predictions how mobile will affect your (library) life. 
  • How mobile changed my life… as a librarian:
  • When we think of the impact of technology, we generally discuss large-scale shifts and seismic change; but the truth is that technology, and the experience of technology, is often quite personal. As librarians, we are always looking at ways that we can use new devices for old tricks, that is, use new technologies to build upon our expertise, enhance services, and expand our reach.  Without a doubt, mobile is changing user expectations, and librarians are challenged to adapt to mobile technologies.  To do so, we must research and explore mobile opportunities, advocate for mobile services and interfaces, and provide services and access to collections at our libraries via mobile.
  • examples
  • Research mobile opportunities: “Mobile Access to E-Books at Yale” – Lisa Carlucci Thomas
  • Advocate for mobile services and interfaces: “Go Mobile: Top 5 Mobile Services for Libraries” – Lisa Carlucci Thomas & Joe Murphy
  • Promote technology training in the profession: “Making it Personal: Leadership Development Programs for LITA” – 2009 ALA Emerging Leaders, Team T (Amanda Hornby, Angelica Guerrero Fortin, Dan Overfield, Lisa Carlucci Thomas)
  • Promote technology training locally at your institution: “HHLIB @ Yale” – Joe Murphy & Lisa Carlucci Thomas
  • How mobile changed my life… as an information professional:
  • For information professionals mobile provides an easy and direct way to interact with social networks, use social media for awareness, engage with Twitter and other new communication channels in support of collaboration, and to monitor and participate in conference discussions and events on-site and remotely.  Mobile services make all of these information channels available on one device: the smart phone. Interacting with and receiving information in the mobile environment requires new skills and evolving competencies.
  • examples
  • Using Twitter and other new communication channels for professional awareness & interaction.
  • SMS updates provide job alerts, news from colleagues and other information streams.
  • The mobile environment requires new skills and evolving competencies.
  • Participate in conference discussions and events on-site and remotely. 
  • How mobile changed my life… as an information consumer:
  • As information consumers, mobile expands and enhances access to information needed in everyday life. News resources can be quickly accessed using social media and mobile applications; consumer alerts, coupons, and updates can be received by SMS; updates from friends and contacts are available in real-time; and entertainment, e.g. music, movies, and games, is available 24/7.
  • examples
  • News resources can be quickly accessed using social media.
  • …and applications.
  • Updates from friends and contacts are available in real-time.
  • Consumer information, alerts, coupons, and updates can be searched using apps or received by SMS.
  • Searching for flights using mobile app.
  • Mobile expands and enhances access to information needed in everyday life.
  • How will mobile change your life? Librarians know much of they need to know already about providing mobile services and why they are important.  As a profession, we’ve been down this road before (see  Librarians and information professionals already have the knowledge to understand and adapt to this new technology.  Our patrons need information; and librarians facilitate access to information by developing and adapting services. Just as the concept of the library cataloghas evolved, the concept of mobile libraries is evolving to include digital delivery of content and services by mobile phone.   
  • New Expectations.New user expectations of immediacy and convenience require us to re-evaluate our services from a mobile perspective.  Not Just in Case.  Not Just in Time.  Just in Need.  Librarians recognize the importance of delivering library services to users at their point of need, and that delivery of services exists in multiple manifestations united by the notion of value. Operationally, libraries must also consider return on investment.  But, the success of bookmobile programs across the country is a proven example of such: librarians personally foster access to collections by taking them where the users are; affording users maximum convenience and opportunity.  Mobile technology provides this,digitally and immediately. 
  • Tech Skills & Training. Tech skills and training will take center stage as we build proficiency using and designing services geared toward our mobile users.  We are experts at packaging, presenting, and delivering information and providing timely information to our users.  What we lack is the ability to identify with new mobile technology and the technological skills & training necessary to build confidence & aptitude in the use of mobile devices & creation of mobile optimized content and portals. Personal stories and experiences not only teach, but create an environment of learning, spark ideas, and motivate creativity.  Talk with others about mobile: share thoughts and ideas: and explore and experiment with mobile services.  Then develop and promote mobile information and instruction sessions for local professionals as well as mobile users at your library.
  • Articulating Mobile. When it comes to bridging the gap between traditional & mobile services: librarians need to lead!  Experiment with mobile, social, access to information: play, learn, fail, try again, and share your lessons and experiences with others.  Build confidence and knowledge so you can articulate the need for mobile services, and develop the programs and policies best suited for your community.  Seek institutional support to research appropriate mobile services for your community and implement those which enhance or expand mobile horizons.  It’s often said that libraries and librarians suffer from functional fixedness – or technological fixedness – due to limitations of perspective, experience, or change readiness.  I’d argue that what is mostly lacking is resources: funding for training, new programs, content development, and staff to explore opportunities and perform new work.  This is what we need to be working toward: we must build mobile confidence, consider these new skills core competencies for our profession, and set the stage for advocacy. We must be able to articulate how mobile fits into our lives before we can envision its benefits to our services and patrons.
  • What mobile means to me is different from what it means to my colleagues, tomy current students, or what it will mean to the next generation of students and library users.  Yet the implications are the same: mobile is about convenience, opportunity, and immediacy of information.   How do libraries, and librarians, meet these expectations in the mobile information environment? I recently read a tweet that said, “work at the edge of your comfort zone” – likewise, increase your comfort with risk and perpetual beta.  Let’s start there. 
  • Think Forward, Think Mobile – and then tell others How Mobile Changed Your Life.  
  • Thank You
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