Blog #4 – Mobile Apps for Libraries!

With the advancement of mobile phone technology and the penetration of smartphones in both advanced and emerging countries, institutions such as public libraries can use these devices to reach their users to enhance the user experience.  Something that caught my attention as I explored the readings for the Mobile Devices and Connections module, was the Library Journal article that discussed the beacon technology and its incorporation in two library apps.  I had never heard of such a technology being explored for library use and the possibilities in regard to marketing and enhancing the user experience seemed like a very meaningful use of the technology.  Although the article dates to 2014, similar technology is being used by business such as Starbucks, Disneyland, and other major retail stores for marketing purposes and to create an interactive user experience.

Earlier this month, my family and I decided to bite the bullet and take a trip to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland.  With the exorbitant single day ticket prices and our proximity to the park, we decided to purchase the annual passes to keep our sanity and not try and do the whole park in one day.  The ticket window attendant advised us to download the Disneyland App in order to make our visit a smoother experience by utilizing some of the tools the app had to offer.  Boy, were we glad we did. The application utilizes similar technology as the beacons except instead of using the Bluetooth radio on your smartphone, it utilizes the GPS radio.  The application allows you to check wait times for rides, it pushes notifications on upcoming showtimes, you can order food from different eateries through the app, provides a map of where you are in the park, and most importantly allows you to reserve fast pass tickets to avoid lines on some of the rides.  This last feature is one of the best features of the app as it helps you plan out your day and avoid waiting in lines of up to three hours for some of the more popular rides.  Disneyland has always been about the user experience and takes full advantage of emerging technologies to create a better one for its guests.

The Oceanside Public Library, which I work at, utilizes Innovative Interfaces’ app MyLibrary!, which integrates with our integrated library system (ILS).  The application can be utilized to initiate user requests such as search the catalog, place holds, renew books, and pay fines.  Along with these features the application also incorporates with the library’s social media in order to promote library services and share photos of library activities.  I think that future development of the app to incorporate location-based notifications can utilize the device’s GPS radio to push notifications to users as they enter the library similar to what the Disneyland app does.  Being able to engage the users as they enter the library by promoting all of the programs and services that are offered utilizing a mobile device, helps to create a meaningful user experience. 

MyLibrary! App

5 thoughts on “Blog #4 – Mobile Apps for Libraries!

  1. Hi Jorge, thanks for posting about the MyLibrary app. It has such great features. I’d love to see more libraries using it or creating their own. I think the idea of getting libraries in the app world is so necessary and I feel like it would greatly increase the interaction between library users and the library, even if many of these interactions are through mobile devices instead of in person.
    -Liz

    • HI @elizabetholson! I agree, finding new ways to interact with library users utilizing the resources they most often use, such as mobile devices, is key in reaching the community. Libraries must keep up with emerging technology trends in order to remain relevant now and in the future. Thanks for the comment!
      -Jorge

  2. Hi @jgarcia! I just wanted to echo Liz’s wish that more libraries would adopt this app–it seems so handy to be able to scan barcodes and check out (or reserve) the scanned item from your local library! I often try to use Goodreads like this, but it takes some extra steps and can be a little convoluted to check whether the books on my “to read” list are available (even with the recent update where Goodreads connects to WorldCat entries for books and the “Available Reads” extension on my browser doing similar work). Having a library’s social media feed consolidated into one place could also be useful, since news about events can get lost in the algorithms of those various platforms’ feeds… Fingers crossed that the app catches on!

  3. I think there are a ton of ideas for ways that libraries could use mobile apps to make a quicker and easier experience for patrons. Self-checkout on your own phone? Maybe a scanner which would allow you to scan a title and see what else has been written by the author, or something connected to NoveList that would give the user similar titles and plots? As Tori mentioned, Goodreads already has a scanner (which I love) that allows you to scan the cover of a book (not even the barcode!) and instantly brings up the title in the app so you can save it to your to-read list or read a synopsis. I am excited to see features like this in the future of libraries.

  4. @jgarcia Glad to read about Disneyland! I had no idea the app was as useful as you describe.

    The conversation here about MyLibrary app is super interesting. Great ideas for improving app access to libraries and making them user friendly. I need to check out GoodReads on my phone.

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