Report back from Becoming upwardly mobile – can libraries rise to the challenge?

Two months ago, I attended this one day event.  I have put my full report below, so apologies for the length.

 Panel Discussion

BL are just about to release their next 10 year vision which will have a large focus on virtual access. They have 150 million objects. Less than 1% of that material is digitized. For the last six years they have had voluntary deposit of e material but there is a black hole of content that never arrived. It cost about a pound per page to recently digitize a collection of newspapers so this currently is not cheap to do and they are expecting 25% cuts in funding. There will be less money available from bodies such as JISC. They are looking at private partnerships but the problem with these is that the content is not available for free off site. Google has contracts with three national libraries BL are not in negations with them yet but this cannot be ruled out for the future. Google digitization is more about having a mass of material rather than being concerned with standards. There may going forward , be a new Google Model which is free to all and paid for via sponsored links.

Bloomsbury Publishing

Skills of existing staff are a real issue in a mobile world. Metadata is now far more important than in the past. Now needing more people with a technology background – the same will be true for libraries. You need to be able to give staff permission to go and play with something new using their own imitative. They ask staff to go away and think of a new non print idea or a new business model every month. He feels that nobody is an expert in the mobile world at the moment and everyone is just taking educated bets on how to meet future demands. They are about to launch which will be free at the point of use. They hope to make money from extra print sales so the money made will be from the wrapping e.g. the printed work that may be nicer to read at length and annotate. Print runs of academic monographs are very small.


They launched their ebook reader three years ago and are now in their second generation modules. Waterstones was their first key partner and they now have WHSmiths etc. The main demographic for the readers are slightly older females. The e ink technology has proved to be very popular. He feels that different devices have different places in the market. E.g. he would prefer to read an ebook on a book sized device without a glaring screen. Kindle has been a problem due to not using the ePub format. They are releasing a new platform that is based on the Playstation systems that will provide access to different types of information. There are no clear signs that e ink will be in colour in the near future.

OCLC’s mobile strategy – Jeff Penka (Portfolio Director for End User Services at OCLC)

They have an innovation lab in order to create new services or adapt old ones. They want to see how they can make it simple and easy for users to access and find all types of libraries materials. World cat has 100s of millions of traffic each year. They want users to be able to do all of their searching via one simple search providing one result set. The background searching is complex but it should appear to be simple to the end-user. You can have a custom local World Cat search box. They have widgets that can be put in other places such as Facebook. You need to know who your users are and where they are. The Smart phone penetration of the UK was 12% but it is growing. Users expect websites to be able to adapt to their phones for viewing. We should be looking at our Wifi data and find out what operating systems the students are connecting from. The library catalogue isn’t the only service they want to access via a mobile, they want to find out which computers are free, paying fines, deal with reservations, see opening hours too. The access to information via apps is dropping whilst the use of accessing information via mobile touch items is growing. You shouldn’t worry about being viewable by all operating systems just the main ones e.g. Apples and android. The OCLC are just launching a new mobile website. They don’t think you should be paying extra for a service that is mobile friendly but that our normal services should be mobile friendly so that you only pay once. Don’t feel that you have to make everything mobile friendly at once, have a list of priorities. Collaborate with your students and discuss with them how they would like to see things develop.

 UBA Mobile – Driek Heesakkers – University of Amsterdam

UoA has about 30 thousand students and five thousand staff. It has twenty locations and 190 FTE staff. They own 4 million objects. They have to purchase IT support from their internal IT Services. They felt that their Metalib and SFX services looked very poor on the mobile devices. They wanted a very quick and cheap project to improve things so they knew that mistakes needed to be allowed. It cost 1500 euros and it took five people 220 hours over three months. Out of the project they got some general information by speaking to students. They got a mobile catalogue and some further recommendations for the future. They decided to create a web app. Http:/ You can easily code a mobile website that looks good on most mobile devices as they have similar standards. They have the catalogue, tweets, opening hours, address info, locations, contact numbers, questions and feedback. They used the open source Julia mobile system to make their aleph catalogue mobile. It just has a simple search and browse and renew feature. They used QR code leaflets for marketing. Their had mobile site had 68% returning visitors. 1500 pages were served. The speaker recommended that you provide staff members with the devices that students are using so that they can make connections and develop new ideas.

Pic2shop – Making Apps Work – Benoit Maison (Founder and Director at Vision Smarts)

With the Pic2shop app you can scan a book barcode or type in its ISBN and it will tell you which local libraries have it and bookshops where you can purchase it from. Top items scanned are the Twilight novels and modern warfare and coke and water bottles (it works for items other than books). You can build a nicer interface with an app but the mobile web has a larger reach and more flexibility. The best thing about the mobile web over an app is that it allows you to link in and out easily and allows you to easily send that link to others. E.g. my ITN news app often has stories that I’d like share with friends but I cannot do this from the app as it does not have a URL that I can copy and paste elsewhere. If you go via the app route you may find that it becomes lost amongst all of the other available apps.   Towards the end of the video on their homepage they show you doing a scan in Borders with a result showing a library record:

Augmented Reality – the future of everything – Lester Madden (Founder/director of Augmented Planet)

He used to work for Microsoft and Skype and Nokia. Augmented reality quite often needs some type of geographical locator. Wikitude links with wikipedia and picks up content such as train stations and points of interest. Google are investing in QR codes and providing them to businesses so that it will take a user to a review of that service. A book called “love hate” whose pages contained nothing but images of QR codes by taking a picture of them with your mobile you would then be linked to messages about love and hate and each month those messages change so in effect the user gets a brand new book. Microsoft have a similar thing to QR codes called Tags that can be made to look like a brand. There is another service called Visual Translation which allows you to translate a piece of text. “Dinosaurs Alive” is a book where if you put it in front of your web cam it presents a 3D image of a T-Rex.  Google goggles can be downloaded to a mobile phone and allows the user to put their mobile camera over a book or a landmark and to be taken to further information about it. Get London Reading app – shows all the books that are written in London.

Junai – images become moving footage

ZooBurst- allows you to create books that are animated and pop up using your own text and images. In the pipeline are services that allow you to scan a book cover and a pop up person can appear telling you about the book. Augmented Reality is still in its infancy but we could potentially use it the Library to mark points of interest. To do this we would need to triangle on wireless network and use indoor markers.

Post by : Lisa Anderson

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1 Response to Report back from Becoming upwardly mobile – can libraries rise to the challenge?

  1. Pingback: Academic Mobile Library Services « Researching Usability

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