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Mobile Devices and Connections (Covid-19 Edition)

Businesses no longer demand employees and customers to be in any particular physical location to provide and receive premium services.

– Michael Stephens

As I hit the official 7th day of our mandated shelter-in-place, the readings for this assignment meant more to me than usual. They hyperlinked library is needed now more than ever before. Libraries, other public spaces, businesses, restaurants, bars, book stores, coffee shops and countless other organizations have shut their doors to the public and we are forced to stay in.

This week’s lectures talked about mobile devices and connections and I found it fitting. Professor Stephens’ lecture asks the question: “how can the library/librarian always be within reach?” (2020). I wonder that myself. How are libraries handling this self quarantine and how are the patrons reacting to it? Some libraries may not have adapted technological advances that allow for an online catalogue or social media presence while others have the capability but may not know what to do with it. The workout studio that I’m a part of is holding live Zoom classes where the instructors are speaking and showing us how to the move while also watching us on our cameras and correcting our form.

Restaurants are offering take-out for food and cocktails and grocery stores are able to stay open and deliver. Companies are being flexible and doing what is necessary to give people what they want. What are libraries doing? As you can see, and as noted in Stephens’ “Serving the User When and Where The Are,”

businesses no longer demand employees and customers to be in any particular physical location to provide and receive premium services.

Mobile devices can help. According to Pew, in 2019, it was assumed that around 5 billion people had mobile devices, and over half of them where smartphones. I’m sure that number is only growing. That being said, younger, lower-income, less educated, or black or Hispanic people do own a smartphone but do not have a home broadband subscription, according to Pew data from 2015.

So we know that most people are likely to have access to mobile devices and they use their devices.

Chart showing that mobile technology, internet and social media use are more common in advanced economies.

What can libraries do during these self-quarantined times to continue to create connection? I suggest the following:

  • Email or use social media to post about library e-resources available to all card holders (i.e. Overdrive/Libby)
  • Offer folks library cards and allow them to show ID and proof of address through Zoom appointments, if possible. If not, offer temporary cards
  • Keep maker activities alive by offering TinkerCad tutorials and other tutorials
  • Offer neighborhood hold delivery and pickup during specific time slots to prevent crowds

So I hope I was able to answer the question. I hope with the data presented and my solutions above, libraries can be within reach during these isolating times.

Anderson, M., & Horrigan, J. B. (2016, October 3). Smartphones may not bridge digital divide for all. Retrieved March 22, 2020, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/03/smartphones-help-those-without-broadband-get-online-but-dont-necessarily-bridge-the-digital-divide/

Serving the User When and Where They Are: Hyperlinked Libraries Michael Stephens, Assistant Professor, SJSU SLIS

Silver, L. (2019, December 30). Smartphone Ownership Is Growing Rapidly Around the World, but Not Always Equally. Retrieved March 22, 2020, from https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/02/05/smartphone-ownership-is-growing-rapidly-around-the-world-but-not-always-equally/

3 replies on “Mobile Devices and Connections (Covid-19 Edition)”

Hi, Daniela!

I, too, feel like Module 10: Mobile Devices and Connections is especially thought provoking during the COVID-19 pandemic and that there’s never been a more appropriate time for hyperlinked libraries. Nearly all areas of our lives are being impacted and it’s our responsibility to adjust accordingly, libraries included. I adore your list of suggested actions for libraries to take to continually meet the information-related needs of patrons, especially during a crisis like this when many people will be seeking additional materials and library support. I hope you and all of your loved ones are doing well. Stay safe.

All the best,
Eleanor

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