Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going Mobile

It's no secret that mobile technology is revolutionizing society. Through apps and simple encoding updates, companies are taking mainstream web content and converting it to mobile-friendly format.


There are many schools of thought on this issue. The technology is less expensive and growing in prominence. Think about it. How many people do you know personally who had an iPhone/Droid/Blackberry or other "smart" device a few years ago? How many more have those devices today?

As librarians we really need to embrace this mobile technology revolution. Even in the most impoverished communities, many parents still have access to iPhones or other smart devices because they are available at an affordable cost. The reality for many of my students is that though they may not have a personal computer at home, they do have access to the internet through mobile devices.

One of the most important ways we can bridge the Digital Divide today is to make sure that all of our web-based library resources are enabled for mobile access. 

Is your OPAC mobile-friendly? If not, submit a request to the software company to include mobile capability in their next update. For some companies, this may mean devising an application to be downloaded through the respective app markets for mobile devices. For others, this may simply mean updating the encoding to detect mobile access (yes, they can detect everything from what operating system you are on to what web browser you are using) and adjusting sizing to fit the mobile screen.

Recently our very own Alabama Virtual Library updated its encoding for mobile-friendly use. This is a prime example of making every effort to enable equitable access to materials. My prediction is that the AVL's usage statistics for the mobile operating system will skyrocket!

Using the Overdrive iPhone app, Jefferson County Library Cooperative users can download audiobooks from the system's collection. JCLC patrons can also check out books for their Kindle or other mobile reading device.

How much more likely are you to use a web resource on your phone if everything fits the screen nicely and is easy to use, or if it's one where you have to scroll back and forth and up and down and you mistype because the data entry screens are too small (then too large, then too small...ugh!).

QR (quick response) codes are one of the fastest growing tools utilizing mobile technology.

Here are other resources on mobile technology in school libraries:

Library in Your Pocket

Mobile Libraries

Are our school libraries mobile?

Mobile technology is changing the relationship between libraries and their users...

So, what do you say? How is your library MOBILE?

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