I have a smartphone. I can usually find it sitting on my kitchen counter, the battery dead, the phone line quiet. I pay a monthly fee for this service (crazy, I know). I am one of the few people that is not connected to my phone, it is not an extension of myself. Although I am the minority, as it is expected by 2020, three short years from now, 50 billion mobile devices will be connecting people worldwide (Stephens, p.1). I believe it, we have probably already reached that number. As I examine the people around me constantly checking their phones I sometimes feel as though I am missing out. I am not anti mobile devices, I just find that I can easily get distracted with ‘me time”, responding to texts and playing candy crush, which takes precious time from my children, my studies, my life which I cannot afford to lose (Stephens, p.4). Maybe after graduate school I will recharge the battery and become part of this technical world where information can be retrieved in the palm of my hand.
After reading the articles in Module 10, I got really excited about the future of mobile devices and what this means for information professionals. I do not view them as a threat, instead I look at mobile devices as an opportunity for libraries and librarians to meet users information needs in a whole different realm. I especially enjoyed the article on Beacons. My marketing/retail background kicked in and I could imagine all sorts of possibilities Beacons could be used for. They can target specific audiences and promote services, products, information, and programs. Promoting the library to people through their mobile devices; which they can save the information or pass along to a friend, is a wonderful marketing tool to promote the many activities occurring at the library. I have always thought our library could do a much better job at marketing their programs. The librarians put so much time and effort into their events and it’s such a shame when just a handful of people attend. I am always reminded of my marketing manager saying “It’s great to throw a party, but who did you invite?”. Meaning you can have the best planned event but if no-one shows up then it was meaningless. Well, beacons could help spread the word of the many great events occurring at the library.
Another opportunity to spread the news about all the wonderful programs occurring at the library is through library Apps. I love my library App. My family checks it daily, mostly to see the new release items. But I think apps make it real simple for people to check out all the cool things at the library. The key is to make the App fun, easy, and interactive. Every library needs an app that customers want to check daily to learn about fun activities and collections at the library.
Now to switch gears for a moment because this module also brings to mind a conversation occurring at my library. Customers have downloaded their library card onto their mobile devices and present their mobile phone to us instead of their physical library card when checking out resources. Library management is currently reviewing the library’s ‘check out’ policies and this is being considered. The question is “Should every library customer have to provide their physical library card or is it acceptable to use their mobile device to check out materials?” My husband recently discovered an App which stores all his cards into his phone. He thinks this is marvellous because he does not always carry the appropriate loyalty cards with him, but he Always has his phone. If he, someone I would not consider very technical, has discovered a use for this App, then I would expect many more of our customers will be checking out books via devices. Personally I do not see a difference between presenting a library card or your phone with your library number. The argument is that if someone wanted to use Visa or MasterCard they would be expected to show their card. Phones seem to have many security features, password or thumb print protection, which in my mind, be good enough to ensure the person is checking out items to their own card. We’ll see how this conversation unfolds at the library.
Stephens, M. (2015). Serving users when and where they are: Hyperlinked libraries.
Enis, M. (2014). “Beacon” Technology Deployed by Two Library App Makers.