Volume 15 Number 3
Questions from online library users, both faculty and students, started to come in more frequently in regard to using library resources with mobile devices. A resource that compiled the answers to this question was necessary. We needed to gather information from library resource vendors including directions for use, links to mobile information and compatibility as well as support information for various mobile devices. In order to fully address these questions, the Empire State College online library created the Mobile Inventory Project.
The goal was to create a way for users to educate themselves to use their mobile devices with the online library. We have a non-traditional student body in terms of age and many of our students work full-time. Their main way of accessing the library is through the internet, so mobile device access is important to them. Library articles and e-books could be read on the train to work or sitting outside on a lunch break, not just sitting in front of a computer or with a stack of printed articles.
At that time (ca. February 2012), most libraries had a mobile website but did not address how online library resources work with mobile devices. Instead, this was information more common to public library websites.
I gathered instructions and links to mobile device information from each library resource vendor. If anything was available, I added it to my repository. Once the information for all of the library resources was gathered, I started testing each resource on our mobile devices (iPad, Motorola Xoom, Kindle and Kindle Fire).
The iPad was the most user-friendly with library resources though the Kindle and Kindle Fire were also easy to use. There were technical complications with the Motorola Xoom that knocked it out of the running before I could get any testing done.
I then collaborated with the lead web designer to figure out the design and layout needs for the webpage I was going to create. Once the page was built, the big decision was what to name it and where to place it on the library website. The librarians worked together and came up with the title, “Using the Library with Mobile Devices.” Right now, this page is listed under the Services tab on the library homepage and is also linked to from many of our library subject guides.
The Mobile Inventory webpage is comprised of a landing page with 3 informational pages in the menu.
The page went live in September 2012 and has been updated on a regular basis. It has been well received by users and librarians needing to answer the questions from users. It is getting traffic, though most traffic comes from librarian referrals during reference interactions. The challenge with the webpage has been getting users to find it on the website. Hopefully with continued use and discovery, the page will get more attention and visits. Another option is moving it to another spot on the library website.
In June 2013, I presented on this project at the SUNY Librarians Association annual conference. Take a look at the "Does the library work with my mobile device" presentation, and please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.