On 24-26 September 2012, I attended the 4th international m-libraries conference at the Open University and made a presentation about the EP Library’s mobile website. This is my brief though belated shot at sharing with you some insights and encouragement for developing mobile library services here in the European Parliament.
m.Library, the EP Library’s mobile website was launched in October 2011, and is available to Members and all European Parliament staff.
Mobile starts with P
A lot of ps (give them a chance) made the success of the conference: Meeting passionate people describing their projects and facing similar problems – with two main keywords: prototype: so, start small, do your research and expect to make mistakes; and the idea that things happen in the periphery before getting mainstream.
A question, though: “Why?”
The most frequent question when talking about developing mobile services for libraries is still “Why are we doing this?”. It is expensive and users do not always follow, so, are we getting our value for money? Well, mobile internet usage is increasing dramatically and should take over desktop in 2014. Users and devices are ready, so now our online experience needs to get geared up too!
With so many users and different devices, one key principle is to be “device agnostic” and not develop for a specific brand, screen size or operating system. Whether responsive design is the best answer remains to be seen (not so according to Martin White) but I will blog about that in a future post about the development of our online services… One key idea is to strive for a single-entity experience, reaching seamlessly across the range of devices available to each user.
On mobile and learning, Char Booth showed that when thinking mobile, we should focus on “facilitating tasks” and, with mobile being the ultimate autodidact experience, we have to smooth out that learning curve and make it less frustrating.
Mobile ‘R’ us
Being mobile is not just having a mobile device, though; it is more generally “users on the move”. Getting back to the original definition of the mobile library, we want to reach out to our users and find the perfect mix between high-tech websites and in-person services to reply to our clients’ information needs. The Library’s New Concept programme is certainly working towards that goal.
The uses of mobile
Ellyssa Kroski gave state-of-the-art examples of what libraries are doing in the mobile sphere: from sms notifications and reference services, to using QR codes in shelves or for book recommendations, to a genuine Augmented Reality experience. Help yourselves to a wealth of ideas in one appetizing presentation!
And for a glimpse – through the looking glass… – into a potential nearby future, I leave you with this (commercial) video (qui pourrait aussi vous laisser de glace voire vous glacer les sangs…).