Mobile Technologies and Libraries

Library in your pocketAccording to the 2011 Horizon Report, mobile technologies are one of the emerging technologies likely to be in widespread use within the year, and already “mobile computing has become an indispensable part of day-to-day life in the workforce.” The  mobilization of information in our society is impossible to ignore, and the proliferation of mobile devices has brought with it an ease of instant access to the internet. For the connected community we have become, this is increasingly mandatory.

Here in Brisbane last week, I attended the 3rd International M-Libraries Conference, along with university and public librarians from around the world. Students constantly engage in an online environment where they expect to discover anything they need to know and access it immediately and if  we, as information specialists, cannot deliver the information our clients demand when they want it, they may well decide we are irrelevant to their needs. While a growing number of university libraries recognise the imperative for them to offer new content or enhance existing services seamlessly via mobile devices, many are still grappling with the logistics of  how to achieve this, in addition to upskilling their stafff to cope with a massive shift in the provision of traditional library services.

Stephen Abrams, author of Stephen’s Lighthouse blog, was a keynote speaker who examined the profound shift in human behaviour that is happening with mobile technologies. He reiterated that libraries are social institutions, connecting people with people and people with information.  While librarians are at the heart of our learning communities, and are still needed as high-end professionals to help students make sense of the digital world, libraries are increasingly no longer just physical places.  He challenged the audience that “as technology advances emboldened librarians hold the key.”

Does this hold true for teacher librarians as well?  We have a more captive and less mobile audience in our schools than universities do, but does that make it any less imperative for us to be providing services via mobile technologies?  I believe not. I believe that schools in general, and teacher librarians in particular, should also be looking forward into the future and tailoring our services towards an increasingly mobile clientele.

To see what some university libraries are already doing with mobile technologies, visit the following sites:

University of Bedfordshire Libraries

North Carolina State University Libraries

Bavarian State Library – Famous Books App and Oriental Books App

Mobile Apps for Libraries – Libraryland Roundup

M-Libraries Wiki

Library Anywhere

Images from and

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