Breakout Session II: Mobile Technology

Smartphones, tablets, etc.

Some say that by 2015 the majority of internet use will be from smartphones and other mobile deviced, rather than from laptop and desktop computers.

Some libraries using Meebo for instant message reference services.

Lincoln City Libraries is using Mosio for text message reference. No software installation necessary; completely web-based. Has built-in statistic generation. One workstation is logged into Mosio, and different staff rotate through shifts on the Mosio station.

Mosio sends a “librarian will respond within 5-10 minutes” auto-reply upon receiving a text. With Meebo, there’s nothing. Need to respond immediately. Sometimes a problem when librarian is helping a face-to-face patron at the moment a Meebo request pops up.

Some ILSs will text a call number to a user’s mobile.

UNO has a webcam to show how long the line is at the Library Café.

Any libraries using their own apps? Lincoln City has developed their own cataloging app.

Question: why would anyone bother with an app when a mobile site is available?

Make it simple and barebones as a starting place, then see what people ask for and work on those features.

QR Codes. Can print them out, stick them at various locations in the library. Can scan with smartphone camera to get link to whatever URL is encoded. For example, can put a QR code with library hours, branches, and locations on the front door of building. Very easy to create these–QR code generator websites create unique codes on demand. e.g.:

The smartphones of today will be the discount phones of three years from now. It won’t be long until these are in the hands of the majority of our users.

Smaller communities see a few Blackberries, but not a lot of smartphones.

Smaller communities still working on establishing wi-fi. In Schuyler, probably only the library and Subway have wi-fi.

Perhaps we need to put our QR codes in Subway, if that’s where the techy users are.

Does your wi-fi bleed outside? Some people park in the parking lot to use library wi-fi without going in building.

Likewise, some people with smartphones stand in library entryway to check their email, then leave without entering building. Hard to count these users in library statistics. But they are users who should be counted.

When there are a lot of users, it slows down the staff internet.

In Schuyler, possibility of issuing all students their own laptops. If that happens, library wi-fi will not be able to handle the bandwidth demand.

Some students using their phone to connect to library’s internet, to avoid asking for parental permission to use computer.

How will the coming changes to the E-Rate laws affect libraries? (E-Rate is help for small libraries for internet, telephone, and equipment. Many rules attached–e.g.: must have filtering software. Was originally intended to help little libraries get connected. Later, some big libraries applied, as well. Primarily for educational institutions. Significant discounts available to libraries that use this help.)

Some people come to libraries for help setting up their mobile devices.

Policy: library staff should not touch anyone’s computer. Library can put together instructions on what to check, but they can not touch the keys.

Mobile device–what exactly does that mean? Squishy definition is a device that you can hold in one hand and connect to the internet. Pocket-sized/handheld computing device.

Newer phones can be used as a wi-fi hotspot.

“My-fi” is a little box about the size of a credit card–connects via cell phone–to create a wi-fi hotspot. It has a service fee attached.

Some newer cars have constant internet connections.

Advantages and disadvantages of laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, etc.? How do they really compare?

Tablets more for consuming media (video, text, etc.) while laptops are more for creation (desktop replacements). Netbooks are somewhere in between. On the other hand, some users do create a lot of content on their tablets. No local storage of documents on the iPad itself, unless she jailbreaks it. The iPad’s touch-screen keyboard is big enough for comfortable typing, much moreso than on an iPhone.

With more and more people having their own devices, will we even need to provide computer access in the future? UNL Library is discussing getting rid of the computer lab.

Public libraries must keep their computer access. When people get laid off, the first thing they cut is internet access. The library’s computers and internet become critical.

A lot of people are canceling their landlines and going mobile only.

It may become possible for public libraries to reduce the number of public computers.

There are websites that will make free mobile websites for libraries. Marcia Dority Baker provided links:

Some librarians and library workers are using mobile devices at work, too. When in the stacks, they take a mobile device rather than a laptop. No need to return to desk to look something up in the catalog.


About akroeger

I'm a cataloger at the Criss Library, University of Nebraska at Omaha.
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2 Responses to Breakout Session II: Mobile Technology

  1. peterjorgensen says:

    To clarify/correct: we have NOT developed a catalog app at Lincoln City Libraries. We have an OPAC profile that is supposed to be mobile-friendly, but there are currently some issues with it. Hoping for better in the future.

  2. Angela Kroeger says:

    Thank you for the clarification. I was typing what I heard in the discussion, without any revision or fact-checking. I hope others who were at the session (or even those who weren’t) will correct other misconceptions. Thanks!

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