Monthly Archives: November 2014

Technology Trends: Adapting the Library for Mobile Users

Standard
  • Kim, B. (2013). The present and future of the library mobile experience. Library Technology Reports, 29(6), 15-28.
  • Zimerman, M. (2011). E-readers in an academic library setting. Library Hi Tech, 29(1), 91-108.

Between circulating mobile devices and designing web apps and mobile friendly websites, libraries both have a long history with mobile devices and are currently seeking ways to better improve the experiences of users with mobile devices. Kim mentions how some libraries develop their own websites and apps, but because this process is costly and lengthy, most libraries simply utilize services designed out of house. DC Libraries was one of the examples of an institution that uses an in-house design. But it doesn’t stop at the website shell. For many academic libraries in particular, the databases are a significant partĀ of their online offerings. Ensuring that database information systems support mobile search and browse is crucial. Because mobile platforms are generally not as detailed as desktop centric sites, the placement, visual layout, and size of icons and menus lends itself to a positive user experience. Also, the order within menus can help to direct users in their search for information, by making popular destinations the most obvious. With mobile devices being increasingly more sophisticated, as well as designed with greater speed, memory, and connection services, the range of activities patrons can undertake from a mobile device has developed. Planning for library services and web offerings should take this into consideration.

Along the same lines, library users have come to expect greater integration of electronic readers. Many public libraries support the download (or temporary download) of e-books through external vendors, such as Overdrive. Because of complications with vendors, licensing, and rights, academic libraries lag behind in this area. For libraries that do offer e-books, the format and appearance, as well as ease of use, tends to differ from one vendor to another. This leaves patrons without a real consistency and dissatisfied. Given the amount of reading that students in academic settings are required to perform, the cost of books and the physical challenge of transporting these materials around makes the possibility of e-books attractive. However, many e-books and electronic formats of books as available in academic libraries either do not allow for download of content to personal devices or to do so would be extremely cumbersome. Digital Rights Management (DRM) prevents copying and creating duplicates of electronic content files. Finding ways to work around these restrictions is something libraries have not yet accomplished. The struggle for open access and flexible content to support research needs is something that is ongoing. Right now, e-books are still entrenched in the for-profit tug of war between vendors, publishers, libraries, and users. There seems for be hope of future development, but right now it’s still slow moving.

Library 2.0

Standard
  • Elching Chingiz oglu Mammadov. (2014). Opportunities for using Wiki technologies in building digital library models. Library Hi Tech News, 31(2), 5-8
  • Kaushik, A. & Arora, J. (2012). Blogs on marketing library services. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 32(2), 186-192.

Elching Chingiz oglu Mammadov discusses the possibilities in using Wikipedia to create interactive information system platforms. It would allow for more visible content and because user could participate in the building process, it encourages ownership and crowd involvement. Metadata would be incorporated as created. Possible downfalls to this model are a cluttered appearances, as it is harder to shape information for aesthetics in a raw display. Also, it would be necessary to establish rules and guidelines with users, to lessen the likelihood of irresponsible users. Benefits include the increased likelihood of collaboration, availability of information on a free and more easily manipulated system, and the ability to be transparent before user bases. Accountability of information accuracy and consistency is possible.

Blogging is very prevalent in social media. Per Kausik and Arora, about 120,000 blogs are created in a day and as of 2011, there were almost 160 million public blogs published to the internet. That’s a lot of voices and a lot of information content! Because blogs encourage communication and e-based connections, through comment features, they can provide wonderful opportunities to build support bases and share information across a vast expanse. Blogs that market library services are currently few and far between. Because of the ability to link to external (and internal) sites, videos, and other media forms through hyperlinks, blogging could be a great tool to announce upcoming events, share new content (research collections) or recently published/acquired materials. When/if institutions decide to engage in blogging, it is necessary to utilize tools that allow users to remain updated and plugged into the content, such as RSS feeds and podcasts. From my personal experiences, it seems that archives and research facilities are much more likely to publish blogs than libraries…but this may be just my limited experience.