Developing m-library services is usually expensive and resource intensive, requiring expertise that existing library staff may not have. Before committing funding and staff time to such projects, it is important to try and ensure, as far as possible, that such investments are targeted at meeting actual needs, and are adding value to existing library services.
The Information Use on the Move project was undertaken in that spirit - to scope the information requirements of academic library users on the move in order to inform future development of library services to mobile devices. The aim was to identify trends in the way people currently interact with information using their mobile phones, and then extrapolate ways that libraries could support those mobile information needs.
People are currently more positive about accessing information via SMS than via the mobile internet, although iPhones and iPhone-like smartphones may change that. The cost of mobile internet browsing has dropped considerably in the past year, and is likely to drop further under pressure from consumer watchdogs.
However, in the current environment text messages (SMS) are likely to be more popular with library users in the UK than mobile web services.
• Many phones due to be released in 2009 are imitating the iPhone’s touch screen interface and are likely to try and compete with the improved internet browsing experience it offers.
• The majority of respondents primarily use their phones to make calls, send text messages and take photographs, and some respondents commented that they prefer to use their iPod or other media player to access these other forms of media.
• iPhone users are already more inclined to read eBooks on their phones, according to comments from the respondents to this survey.
Higher Education libraries should consider
• Piloting text alerting services - giving users the opportunity to choose whether they want notifications by text message, email or both are likely to be taken up by at least a third of library users. These alerts would include the notifications automatically generated by the Library Management System (LMS).
• Piloting a text reference service – if the library receives a high volume of enquiries that require brief responses, such as dictionary definitions, facts or service information from the library.
• Providing a mobile OPAC interface – perhaps using a service such as AirPac or WorldCat Mobile, or working with their LMS supplier to develop a mobile version of their OPAC.
Ensuring that the library website is accessible and will resize to smaller screens – in order to be ready for increasing numbers of netbook users and mobile internet users in the next few years.
• Providing audio tours of the library - to help visitors or new users orient themselves and learn more about the service.
• Allowing mobile phone use in the library - as long as they are set to silent or to flight mode (meaning they are not receiving a signal).
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The Arcadia Programme is a three-year programme funded by a generous grant from the Arcadia Fund to Cambridge University Library. The grant will enable us to explore the role of academic libraries in a digital age, create new programmes and services, particularly for undergraduates -- and also to improve the external environment of the library.
A major part of the Programme is the Arcadia Fellowship Programme which will bring talented people to Cambridge to work on aspects of this very broad subject. Arcadia Fellows will work on projects aimed at increasing the library's capability to provide users with services appropriate to a networked world. Each Fellowship will have 'deliverables' (broadly defined) associated with it and our findings and outputs will be shared with colleagues in the academic library community worldwide.
RefWorks RefShare Bibliography
Examples of Mobile WebSites
List of Possible m-Library Services