Movement Towards Mobile
Have you ever texted a question to a librarian? Have you ever found directions to the exact location of a book in the library stacks from your phone? Have you ever picked up your phone to renew a library book? There are a group of librarians working hard to make sure you are easily able to use your phone to access your library’s services. In fact, there was recently a whole conference devoted to making libraries more mobile friendly.
The 7th annual Handheld Librarian Online Conference was held in August 2012. The conference was conducted by librarians for librarians. The organizers of this successful online conference recognize the power of technology and focused the program on ebooks, the power of the mobile device, and the importance of making library services easily available on handheld devices. Library Journal reports that in the United States there are currently more mobile phone subscribers than there are United States citizens so if libraries want to connect to their users, smartphones provide an increasingly important channel.
The conference featured a number of speakers addressing how libraries can use mobile phones to help patrons, bring library resources to the community, and even how mobile phones and a smart, social web presence can bring people in larger numbers into a library. The two keynote speakers highlighted major opportunities. Lee Ranie, the director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, pointed out that many library patrons are unaware of the fact that libraries lend ebooks to their patrons. Ellyssa Kroski, manager of Information Systems at the New York Law Institute, focused her talk on the diverse and interesting ways that libraries are using mobile technologies to offer services to patrons. Aside from the two keynote speakers, the conference included a long list of presenters including the popular blogger, David Lee King. King’s presentation covered how to use social tools to make connections with patrons.
Innovative librarians recognize that many people access information from their phones, and librarians are finding ways to use this knowledge to become more helpful to their patrons. Making libraries accessible on mobile devices is a movement that Library Journal has also highlighted, stressing the importance of making sure websites are compatible with small screens and are easy to navigate from a handheld device. Some libraries are even creating mobile versions of their catalogue. If you haven’t checked out your library on your phone yet, then you may be missing out on a bunch of new learning opportunities.
Image: Modern library by Conrad Nutschan (via Wikimedia Commons).