EBSCO, WorldCat Local, JSTOR, IEEE, Lexis/Nexis, PubMed.Other services used by libraries and library users have also gone mobile, including RefWorks and mobile OPACs such as the AirPac module offered by Innovate Interfaces.For librarians, mobile friendliness is moving from an exception to an expectation from our vendors.
I attended Elsevier’s 13th annual digital libraries symposium. The theme was mobile technologies: issues for academic libraries.
Joe Murphy from Yale University shared his 3 themes for the coming year: Social Recommendations,Social mobile photo-sharing, and Social entertainment checking
Social recommendations refers to tools such as Bizzy that allow you to share recommendations with others. With Bizzy, you can share with others your favorite places to eat, shop, and play.
Flickr and other photosharing sites have been around for awhile, so what is the difference when we talk about social mobile photosharing? Joe Murphy predicts that Flickr is on its way out. New iPhone applications including Hipstamatic ($1.99) and Instagram have become quickly and hugely popular.
Social entertainment checking has to do with sharing what’s going on in your life with others. To connect with others in the context of common interest.Philo claims it is (re)inventing television by allowing users to share what tv shows they are watching, connect with other viewers, and see what shows are trending in that instant. Miso is a hugely popular program that claims it is changing the way people watch tv by allowing you to follow shows, share comments and articles, and earn points and badges just for contributing to the discussion. Miso’s popularity may have something to do with its interface, which looks an awful lot like facebook.
So you have goodreads and library thingfor sharing books, now Philo or Miso for sharing tv shows. How about something that does it all?Well new mobile friendly tools are available that take it to a new level, such as GetGlue which lets you share tv shows, books, movies, music, and your favorite artists.
So how does any of this relate to libraries? Perhaps there isn’t a direct application of these tools in our daily work, but it’s important to be in touch with new tools that are coming out, to follow the trends and see what is popular and why. Look at the interfaces – they are clean and easy to use, so think about if your website or mobile site like this?With all this new technology, Joe Murphy argues that the biggest challenge is how to manage change. We need to engage, understand, and adapt it to our needs.
Kevin Rundbladspoke next about Mobile User Experience – Culture, Context, and Interaction. He is the User Experience and Social Technology Strategist, University of California at Los Angeles and focused on the user experience. He stressed the importance of being user-centered, and letting the user experience drive our decision-making. His key points were to understand the users, know the context, and create simple interactions.He made his presentation available online, if interested you can go to his website at about.com/rundblad
Kevin advocated for conducting user research, even at a basic level such as through focus groups, individual interviews, and web analytics. We need to remove the distance between us and them. One way to do this is to work with students; you will naturally find out how they work and how they interact with technology by working with them. Kevin co-founded an innovation group called the Simul8 Group, comprised of UCLA student web programmers and designers. What better way to remove the distance than by regularly working directly with your users?
An important thing to keep in mind is the mobile context. Generally, this means limited screen space, limited attention, and in transit operation.It’s also worth looking at specific context to your institution. What devices and operating system are most common on your campus? How are your users interacting with mobile sites and applications?
What do users need? They want us to solve their problems. They want fast discovery. They want to search, determine relevancy, and save for later. Kevin argued that “The simplification of finding things is even more critical on mobile.” And he’s absolutely right.
I found out that there was a report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project published in July of 2010 titled Mobile Access 2010. This 32 page report includes a lot of useful statistics when you’re thinking about context and how mobile usage has evolved in the past couple of years. 76% of cell phone owners take pictures with their phones. 72% send or receive text messages. 34% send or receive e-mail.http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Mobile-Access-2010.aspxSo what does this all mean for us? What are libraries doing with mobile technology?
The Harold B. Lee Library at BYU has created mobile floor maps. Oregon State has floor maps, too.
A number of libraries now let you view computer availability from their mobile site. Oregon State University and North Carolina State University are two examples.
One of the obvious services a student might want to access on their mobile device is the ability to reserve a study room. NCSU allows you to do this from their mobile website.BYU lets you do this.
Web cams are being used on mobile sites. Oregon State let’s you view the coffee line at their coffee shop thanks to a live webcam.NCSU has multiple webcams, including one of the learning commons, the coffee shop, and library construction.
Oregon State has BeaverTracks, which is a historical location and walking tour that let’s you view historical information along with historic images related to your current location on the campus.NCSU has WolfWalk, a similar application.
Another session I went to was the LITA Mobile Computing Interest Group meeting. It was a full house.
First up was Jim Hahn from Illinois University. He talked about a rapid ethnographic study that he conducted on the use ofiPads on a campus bus. He approached students on a campus bus, and over the course of 3 days talked to 10 students and observed them using the device for a variety of purposes. He asked them where they were going, and to use the iPad to search for any information they needed before they got there.This goes back to the importance of understanding the user. Rapid ethnography is one way of doing this. Many of you might be familiar with the ethnography studies done at Rochester and elsewhere that observe students in their natural learning environments. This is a similar approach, but less scientific, and having to do with students use of mobile devices.It’s a good starting point and a relatively easy way to gather some great information.
This goes back to the importance of understanding the user. Rapid ethnography is one way of doing this. Many of you might be familiar with the ethnography studies done at Rochester and elsewhere that observe students in their natural learning environments. This is a similar approach, but less scientific, and having to do with students use of mobile devices.It’s a good starting point and a relatively easy way to gather some great information.
Next to speak were EvvivaWeinraub & Hannah Rempel from Oregon State University. They have been working a lot on their mobile site, as we saw some examples earlier, and recently they were looking for a fun mobile project to work on - they were aiming to put the fun back into mobile websites.When they think about what sort of things to put on a mobile site? This is why it’s important to think of the mobile context. Things should be time-saving and should take advantage of the mobile web strengths. For examples, when possible they should be location sensitive. This is the case with Beaver Tracks.At OSU it was well known to them that many students, faculty and staff often requested popular or leisure reading materials. So they recently developed the Book Genie. This application will randomly select something for you to read from a list of bestsellers, university presses, and award winners.
A similar example of something fun a library has done is Orange County Library System’s Shake It application. Download it for free on iTunes and shake it to find a random title in their catalog.
To conclude… libraries are doing some fantastic, creative things with mobile technology. Whatever you decide to do at your institution, make sure you begin with user research, even if its informal. Get creative and share your ideas with other libraries, and always keep the user experience in mind. And have fun with it!
Everything Mobile @ ALA Midwinter 2011
Everything Mobile @ ALA Midwinter<br />Rebecca Blakiston<br />Instructional Services Librarian<br />Website Product Manager<br />University of Arizona Libraries<br />