I know it’s way past IL2009, but I want to publish these last few notes.
The rest of the mobile/handheld track was like attending a MLM meeting. All these presenters showed how YOU TOO can achieve mobile market penetration for your library services, and demonstrated some very slick applications. Many were developed by academic libraries to entice students to use library services. We don’t have enough of that demographic group captured in the public library setting yet. And yet, I walked out of the sessions all pumped up with a MISSION to learn about mobile applications, CONVINCED that a mobile library world is inevitable, and that we’d better be READY with the supply when our public announces its demand.
Numbers were liberally sprinkled throughout the presentations, but basically showed that cell phone use is still a very small part of library service, ranging from 0.05% to 11% of patrons. It is growing, though, and the trends indicate that in a few years, virtually everyone will have a smart-phone.
The general advice dispensed was to know how our patrons are using their phones, what they do on their phones, and then decide which library services should be adapted for mobile.
But the projects were prime! Shoutbomb works with your ILS (III’s Millennium was specifically mentioned, and that’s what we’re using) to send notifications via SMS to patrons’ cell phones.
This year, Sacramento Public Library, my employer, is breaking out 2.0 tools and services big-time. Like most large organizations, it took the library a long time to acknowledge the sea-change and mobilize its staff. The library is now tweeting, has a Facebook fan page, a blog – and that’s just the library; some staff are also doing all those things individually, as well!
Part of our ongoing effort to remain relevant in a more independent – yet social – environment is offering computer classes for our library patrons. These are always popular and often filled to capacity. It doesn’t seem to matter much what we offer, people will sign up for everything! Most government services, employment applications, shopping sites, and travel sites now require people to communicate via a web site and have an e-mail address. We are helping our patrons to acquire these services and skills in order to remain functional.
The next big change will be library services delivered to mobile devices: your library on your cell phone, so to speak. to that end, there’s a new mobile interface under development, and we are participating in a text reference pilot.
I’m helping to plan the second Handheld Librarian Conference, scheduled for February 2010. This two-day online conference sponsored by Alliance Library System and Learning Times will feature keynote speakers and panels addressing all things mobile as they relate to libraries. The first conference was amazing!, and this one will be even better! In prep, I’m looking at all kinds of mobile services and mobile apps offered by libraries for their patrons and staff – it’s like a smaller, parallel universe! One that is growing very fast as more people switch to their handhelds with the expectation of getting good service.