The 2010 Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium identified Mobile Computing as one of two emerging technologies “likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression in higher education” in the coming year. How can libraries approach the opportunity created by pervasive mobile computing?
The presentation introduces one model for planning mobile initiatives within an academic library context, informed by the experience of mobile library initiatives deployed at North Carolina State University. The model advocates for thinking about “mobile” as a use context rather than a content delivery channel, and leveraging existing digital assets where possible. The model distinguishes between library services optimized for a mobile use context, and digital library collections optimized for a mobile use context. The “NCSU Libraries Mobile” project (http://m.lib.ncsu.edu/) is used as a case study for mobile optimized library services. NCSU Libraries Mobile provides a suite of library services designed to make library users more productive. The “WolfWalk” project (http://m.lib.ncsu.edu/wolfwalk) is used as a case study for mobile optimized digital collections. WolfWalk is a historical guide to the NCSU campus that exposes archival content through a location-aware mobile interface. Location-aware interfaces to digital library content hold the promise of providing “in situ” learning opportunities by exposing content in the context of the user’s current location.
The presentation outlines several considerations when planning a mobile initiative, such as the difference between mobile-optimized websites and “native” mobile applications, the challenges of testing and evaluating mobile applications, and the importance of adapting mobile technologies to suit local needs. The presentation will conclude with some thoughts about potential future uses of mobile technology in libraries, including staff-facing applications.
Presentation delivered at the Ticer Digital Libraries a la Carte summer course in the Netherlands in 2010.