Library in Your Pocket: Educause webinar

For those of you who missed the EDUCAUSE webinar “Library in Your Pocket: Strategies and Techniques for Developing Successful Mobile Services.” you will be happy to know that is freely available in their archive at

One criticism I have is that the webinar seemed to focus on academic libraries that have the resources (programming people) to be able to do these things.  There wasn’t anything for the average librarian not in an academic setting, without programming people to help. 

It was interesting webinar.  Here are some of the things they talked about:

  • Determine what you want to mobilize from your webpage, not everything on your main webpage shouldn’t be on your mobile site.
  • Have a mobile redirect link on your traditional home page so mobile users can quickly find your mobile site.
  • Always link back to the traditional home page so if somebody wants to go beyond the mobile site they can.
  • Mobile just isn’t shrinking the page.  “It is mobilization NOT miniaturization.”
    • Catalog is good example (see slides)
      • Shows what items they kept and didn’t keep from the regular catalog webpage.
      • Got rid of advanced searching tools. Mobile catalog page only has three items, search box, drop down menu and available items only check box.
  • Long lists aren’t necessarily bad for mobile devices. (I disagree to a certain extent, long lists are annoying.)
  • Some things buried on traditional website might be popular on a mobile site.
    • Example: They NCSU Library has a coffee shop, they have a link to their webcam of the coffee shop for people to see how long the line is.  Very popular on the mobile, not on the traditional web.
  • Talk with users to get feedback on your mobile site.  Some of their thoughts might surprise you. They will tell you what is good, what needs improvement, what they want/need.
  • Create a device target strategy. In the medical world we call it triage.  What devices have high priority and what devices have low priority for development. 
    •  So in hospitals since Blackberrys are used heavily you might want to bump them into the top level and drop the Android to the mid or low level.
  • You really need to develop and modify content quickly (don’t hang on to something too long before you go live) because mobile devices change rapidly and best practices for providing content to these devices evolve constantly.
  • Have fun and be willing to experiment.  The NCSU coffee line cam was a fun idea that turned out to be extremely fun and valuable.
  • Use content in creative ways.
  • Collaboration is essential. 
    • Development with programmers, IT, etc.
    • Users with telling you what they like/need


Things that might be tricky for regular librarians:

  • It helps to have programming people.  People at NCSU libraries used their campus IT or programming people to help create the site.
  • The the mobile catalog is going to be tricky/difficult if your ILS doesn’t provide help, widgets, or add ons to make a mobile friendly website. The NCSU had an in-house thing to help deal with the catalog data and re-purpose it in mobile friendly way.
  • Be mindful of costs.  It can be done without any external costs, but there is always the cost of time. 
  • You must always be up for changing content.  You can’t develop/create a site and let it sit because the phones and best practices change so quickly. 
  • Right now it looks like creating a mobile site is going to be difficult for small libraries with 1-2 librarians and that don’t have an IT department or programmers (or have a good relationship with).

I think it is important for those libraries that have the opportunity to create a mobile web site to do it because the mobile web is getting more and more prevalent.  However, librarians with small libraries or hospital libraries that have restrictive development policies don’t need to worry.  While the mobile web is growing at a very fast pace, it still only represents 1.3 percent of all web page views.   So smaller libraries actually have a little bit of a time luxury, they can sit back and watch and learn from the everybody else.  Libraries in hospitals that have restrictive web development policies should sit back and evaluate their library resources and how those are mobile friendly.  Even if these librarians can’t control the look or function of their website, they might be able to add the mobile friendly links to library resources on the regular site.  For example they could have a link to the regular PubMed site listed and then just below that link have a link to the version.

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