Report back from the m-libraries: Information on the move one day event.

 I attended this event a few months ago, but I thought it would be good to share my report on this event as most of the information is still relevant. 

Ken Banks – Founder of

Most people in the developing world will access the Internet for the first time via a mobile phone.

Gsm world –   provide maps of mobile phone coverage across the world. 

They use charging stations in many parts of Africa as they don’t have electricity at home.  Some now use their mobiles as a torch to provide light at home.

In many parts of Africa they are still using very old phones, so there are limits to what content can be delivered via them. Phones are recycled and passed on to other family members. The mobile phones are creating new business opportunities e.g. running charging stations, repairing them, or paying for access to a mobile phone. Their mobile phones tend to be just voice and SMS devices, no fancy iPhones.

Frontline SMS  – is a service that allows you to send SMS messages cheaply and people can respond back eg to surveys. To use it you connect your mobile to a laptop.  You can map where the messages to you are coming from and see the result on a visual map. A medical doctor in the Philippines is using the system to let patients know when his clinics are and to remind them the day before it happens.  The software and support for Frontline SMS is free.  The only cost is for the text messages from the phones or you could send the SMS for free if you are connected to the internet. You can set up keywords eg opening hours so it automatically sends them a text with the opening hours when that query comes through. You could also connect it to library reminder systems. You can create groups in order to send one message to a number of people.  Ken Banks is happy for this service to be used for free by academic libraries despite its main purpose being to help not for profit organizations.

Mohammed Ally – A library in your pocket.

Director of the Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University (Canada’s OU)

Ally showed us a SMART phone that has a built in overhead projector. People are now producing wearable mobile devices that look like a tattoo on your arm.

Cost of putting some religious books online was $940 and over ten weeks they were downloaded 102,526 times. Print sales for the items increased by 26 per cent. Ally’s recent book was available as free download and this had no impact on print sales.

Macedonia is a country that has a wireless network across it.

John Naughton – the library : from repository to platform.

Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University and Academic Advisor to the Arcadia Project at Cambridge University Library.

You can build a customized search engine via Google, you select which sites it will search across.

 The main thing I got out of Naughton’s talk was the idea that in libraries we are constantly chasing an ice hockey puck, but a successful hockey player will be able to visualise where the puck is heading and then be able to successfully get it at the right moment.  In libraries we rarely do this with new technologies, instead we are cautious and so end up constantly chasing the puck when it has already moved on. 

Mobile innovation in UK libraries:

Hassan Sheikh – The Open University Library

OU has have over 200,000 distance students.

They have created a mobile friendly version of their website.

Most searches on the mobile library site were going to the same few

pages: Home, contacts, search, news, eresources

They have a three devices model:

Basic web enabled, middle end Smart phones, and larger touch screens. 

They used the three device model from MIT Mobile web open source project, by doing this you can just re-use their source codes so that you do not have to create material from scratch. Oxford University also has open source code for the iPhone.

OU has information literacy guides called iKnow and these work via mobile Safari.

Kate Robinson – University of Bath

QR codes and their application in libraries.

Only 12-15% students at Bath had heard of QR codes and only 2% have used them.

QR codes are 2D barcodes. You can create codes with  a mobile code generator e.g. .

They have added QR codes to floorplans so that they link to a  podcast informing the user about that area.

Subject librarians’ offices have them on the doors to give more information about that person e.g. who they are and contact details.

They have integrated QR codes into their library catalogue so that the student can take a picture of the QR code on the catalogue and then they will have all of the information that they need to find that item. They advertised their new QR codes with a prized activity. They had to give students a lot of support with downloading QR readers onto their different mobile phones.  The uptake by users did not seem significant at present.

Peter Godwin – University of Bedfordshire

They have developed Just a Minute library videos, they have 17 of these now on different topics.

 Report back by Lisa Anderson.

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