EconBiz mobile: Why App and where do we go from here?


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EconBiz ( is a subject specific portal for business and economics. It helps locate articles, books, full-texts etc. The portal has been around for more than ten years changing shape in accordance with technical developments and user needs and expectations.
Since 2011 apps – first for iPad and iPhone, since 2012 also for Android-Smartphones- are one way to use EconBiz. (
Through the apps we offer our users new ways to access our content pool of more than 8 million records. The number of features of the web-portal has been reduced in the apps. However, the apps also include additional features like a map of libraries that can be used to find a library close to the user’s location.
There are a number of future challenges we face, especially with the apps. We serve users in a specific discipline but not in a specific library. Thus, we have to find solutions for presenting availability options independent of a specific home base. However, we still need to be able to refer users back to their home libraries for licensed material or printed books. This works o.k. for German libraries since we are able to include external availability checkers. But these services do not work well in an international context. A focus on “open access only” material that we provide in EconBiz Open ( may thus be an option for the international version of the apps.
In the future, we have to decide whether it is better to improve the native apps or to offer a mobile friendly version of the web portal. Both versions have their individual advantages and disadvantages. In the long run, we might go for a web-portal optimized for mobile users but right now the stripped down apps offer much faster access to the huge content pool than the web portal and make better use of the small displays and of the hardware-specific usage.
In spring 2012, usability experts will perform a heuristic evaluation and then the usability of the apps will be tested in a student project.
I will present our experiences with the apps, the results of the usability tests and our thoughts on and options for future developments.
EconBiz was developed by the ZBW- German National Library of Economics – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics and the USB – University and City Library of Cologne.
The apps were developed by the Know-Center in Graz, Austria.

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EconBiz mobile: Why App and where do we go from here?

  1. 1. EconBiz Mobile –A Library App for ResearchersWhy App and Where Do We Go from Here?Tamara PianosInformation Provision and AccessTrondheim02.10.2012 The ZBW is a member of Leibniz-Gemeinschaft
  2. 2. Overview• Background information: ZBW and EconBiz• Old clothes: portal beginnings• The wardrobe: different clothes for different occasions• Why App? Functions, challenges, usability• Where do we go from here?• Conclusion Seite 2
  3. 3. About the ZBW: largest library in the world forbusiness & economics & related social sciences Kiel & Hamburg Seite 3
  4. 4. 2:13 p.m.: Our Daily Connection to Norway Seite 4
  5. 5. About EconBiz• Subject specific portal for business & economics & related social sciences• Covers articles, books, full-texts, events etc.• Started as a project in the year 2000 Seite 5
  6. 6. EconBiz: Very Old Clothes 2002 Seite 6
  7. 7. The Wardrobe:Different Clothes for Different Occasions Seite 7
  8. 8. EconBiz: Last Season‘s Clothes • 2010 ff: Google-like search interface Seite 8
  9. 9. EconBiz: Scope and Limitations• Search engine, Solr-index• Content pool of more than 8 million records• BUT: Access to licensed & printed material difficult for users outside German universities Seite 9
  10. 10. Fast + Easy Solution  EconBiz Open• Open Access material only• ~ 1 million documents Seite 10
  11. 11. Why App? Seite 11
  12. 12. 2010: Reasons for the Apps• Try out innovative service• Offer less complex, easy-to-use, up-to- date service Seite 12
  13. 13. 2009-Study: What Users Want on a Mobile PhoneKeren Mills: M-Libraries: Seite 13
  14. 14. Basic NeedsRelatively easy to supply:• Opening hours• Location• Contact information…A bit more of a challenge:• OPAC• Borrowing Records• E-books… Seite 14
  15. 15. What the EconBiz Apps Offer• Search a number of (free) databases simultaneously• Direct access to open access PDFs• Access to licensed material depends…• Reduced features (no expert search, less filters…)• Additional feature: map of libraries that can be used to find a library (but not individual library maps)• Basic information on location and opening hours, contact info etc.• Helpdesk Seite 15
  16. 16. iPad Seite 16
  17. 17. Basic Features Display of: • filters • results • mail • favourites • notes • map • libraries • … • options Seite 17
  18. 18. Seite 18
  19. 19. Map and phone-App Seite 19
  20. 20. Seite 20
  21. 21. Seite 21
  22. 22. Seite 22
  23. 23. Seite 23
  24. 24. Seite 24
  25. 25. Seite 25
  26. 26. Phone-Apps • Basically the same • many functions behind the „more options“ icon or button (Android) • + Barcode-scanner to start search Seite 26
  27. 27. Challenges• We serve users in a specific discipline but not in a specific library• We need to find solutions for presenting availability options• Refer users back to their home libraries for licensed material or printed books (works o.k. for German libraries since we are able to include external availability checkers. But other countries…) Seite 27
  28. 28. Availability Challenges German Gateway WorldCat Seite 28
  29. 29. First Usability-Test-Results for the Apps• iPad much better than phones for actually doing research• Bright icons misleading • Library options confusing, raise false expectations [availability always difficult]• More space for search-words• Different „folders“ for saving results/favourites would be good Seite 29
  30. 30. The Buffy-Musical Question:„Where do we go from here?“ Seite 30
  31. 31. App versus Mobile WebsiteApps: Website:• Offer faster access • Easier to realize one login• Make better use of the small and list of favourites displays / User experience • One version – not different design versions for different devices• Easy to save data and PDFs • Faster, easier, cheaper to on device realize• Use offline• Geolocation services for in-depth analysis: GIA Whitepaper Seite 31
  32. 32. EconBiz: Today Seite 32
  33. 33. EconBiz: Possible Future? EconBiz EconBiz EconBiz personal choice content, language etc.EconBiz Seite 33
  34. 34. In the Meantime: Some Accessories Seite 34
  35. 35. Facebook (App) and Twitterbot Seite 35
  36. 36. Geo-Mashup of Calendar of Events Seite 36
  37. 37. A Bigger Wardrobe• More tools and gadgets will be provided by student projects• EconBiz will be a content provider and testbed for the EU-Project EEXCESS and for our Science2.0-Research-Network Tochtermann, 2010 Seite 37
  38. 38. Conclusion• EconBiz is available in different shapes and sizes• Rapid changes in technology make it difficult to plan a couple of years ahead• The API gives us flexibility for quick developments and for different future usage options. It helps us to bring our content to the platforms that the users prefer - independent of their shape and size. Seite 38
  39. 39. Questions? Seite 39
  40. 40. Questions? TAMARA PIANOS T: +49–431–8814–365 E: Seite 40
  41. 41. Some Sources on Library Apps• Conference:• Wiki:• Group:• Ellyssa Kroski: Libraries to go• Rudolf Mumenthaler: Arbeiten mit mobilen Geraeten• Tamara Pianos: EconBiz to Go (includes a number of references)• Hans-Bodo Pohla: Bibliothekarische Applikationen (includes a number of references) Seite 41
  42. 42. EconBiz & EconBiz Mobile Links• EconBiz-Prezi• EconBiz-Open-Prezi•• Video: EconBiz4iPad [in German] Seite 42
  43. 43. Apps for iPad, iPhone und Android Seite 43