I work in web development so I am appended to my devices or vice versa. In the office I have a double screen workstation, a laptop, a tablet and two android phones all running at the same time, and all interacting and synced throughout the day. In addition to this, many of my colleagues have a similar array of devices and we troll the halls many days in the name of work and other stuff looking for persons to test something or search for something on their devices for the sake of divining their experience using their unique devices. My colleagues with their Windows and Apple devices are my go to people because being a strong Android fan myself, I need the fans of the other devices to help me get my job done.
At home, I am similarly equip, so I use multiple devices there as well. Recently my tablet died and I went into panic mode! I felt…lost! I loved that device, we went almost everywhere together. It was my classroom, office, entertainment etc., in fact, I can relate to Michael when he spoke about slowly unveiling his new iPhone in his article, Mobile at the Library | Office Hours, it is a pleasure that only true fans of mobile device understands and appreciates. That’s how I feel about my Samsung Galaxy devices and how I will feel this weekend when I get my new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3! Until then my Galaxy phone is my next best friend. I use it for everything a mobile user will use their phone for. I check in with my office if I’m on the road, check in and checkout ebooks and other resources at my library, respond to class information, posts, group sessions etc., watch movies, catch up on the latest gossip, text and chat with friend and family even if we all in the same physical space. By the way, most of my light mobile using friends, family and my mum don’t understand this at all, which is? Why if we are all in the same physical space do we need to use our devices to communicate? I on the other hand don’t understand what it is that they don’t understand, weird.
My mobile devices, disturbingly enough, are my world and the Mobile Information Environment continues to morph as a world in its own sense with its own rules, resources, risks and rewards. This is an environment that keeps many of us connected, on top of things, in touch, and in the know. I am not unique in this because for many of us today function more efficiently because of our always on, always connected devices. Is this a good thing? Not always, I would say it depends on the circumstances. In my environment due to my work and distance from school, persons and other resources, I need my mobile devices to function.
David Gagnon talking about the Mobile Learning Environments enacted the typical day in the life of a mobile device user (me), from ordering food, to checking in their locations with friends, to looking to the stars, all possible by the simple touching of an app. Information that would have taken the average user eons to find, is now available in an instant. Gagnon believed that the impact of mobile devices is inestimable with millions of devices in use and millions to be put to use in the future. So why not use it in learning environments? According to Gagnon, “learning happens anywhere someone has questions and the means to explore answers.” What better place for this learning to happen in my opinion than your local library or virtual using mobile devices. Mobile devices are some of this era’s most valuable, innovative, creative and engaging learning tools with something to appeal to all age groups, even if that appeal is just the novelty of the newest version of the device, or in my case that Android Nougat OS which promises me that I will be able to personalize my devices even more. Even more that what, I have no idea, but whatever that means, I am sold.
On a serious note, library users are using their devices to interact with their libraries, whether it’s the online catalogue, database, events calendar, and social media sites. Libraries that have taken steps to understand the needs of mobile users are now using mobile devices as information and learning tools. Those who are lagging behind on the rapidly growing mobile device trend are missing out on a vast array of opportunities to be visible on the web, relevant to their users and leaders in the provision of informal learning environments.
As David Weinberger noted in his article Let the Future Go, unfortunately, many libraries are not even visible on the web and in some cases, many do not actively see the future possibilities of technology and how it can impact positively on the visibility of libraries. Weinberger ended his article with some profound words, stating that “libraries do not have to invent their own future. But…do have to create an environment in which the rest of the world can make everything out of libraries that can be imagined.” I believe that beginning with a small mobile information environment which highlights and encourages user engagement with all of the library’s resources is a good first step in improving the library’s visibility, their vision of themselves in the future and the client’s engagement with their mobile friendly library from wherever they are.