I just completed another Infopeople online class, “There’s an App for That“. (Who would have thought I’d ever be REQUIRED to play in the app store!) This was a challenging class on two fronts: time and critical analysis. We students downloaded and examined apps on our personal mobile phones and tablets, and shared our opinions and reviews on a private Posterous blog set up by the instructor.
We looked at apps in four categories: e-book readers & news, productivity, library web sites & mobile apps, and creative & reference apps. We discussed how our reading and news-gathering habits have changed over the last ten years, and speculated on the future of library services in the next few years. We compared ways to capture web sites and save them for offline reading on a mobile device. Sometimes it was a leap to apply what we were evaluating to actual library service. The apps seemed to be more suited to helping librarians use their time and their devices more effectively.
I can, however, see the value of knowing about apps in a reference sense, and being able to refer patrons to an appropriate app when needed. Keeping up with app reviews is no problem for me – the app store is now my favorite department store – and knowing that our database vendors are now producing apps will help us sell their content to reluctant users. We already have Mango and EBSCO, and we also use Boopsie so patrons can use our catalog and account services on their phones. I don’t think I would have spent the time analyzing apps for content and usability, were it not for this class, nor would I have considered creative uses for apps in delivering modern library service. Time well spent!