Mobile technology has come a long way to helping users in the library, sometimes without having to set foot inside it. Looking for more info on an author? Want to reserve the latest mystery you’ve been hearing about through a mobile app? Need to ask a research question in person but it’s after hours? All of these questions are examples of what can be done using your smart phone.
According to the latest PEW research, mobile phone ownership is growing with no signs it’s going down: in 2018 95% of adults polled had a cellphone, with 77% having a smart phone. Smart phones are more than taking pictures and texting friends, they can also help you when you’re at the library.
|Smart phone with a digital QR code. Image via Pexels.com.|
Using QR Codes for More Information
QR codes are the little square boxes with information linked to a website. You scan it with your phone, and it brings up more information about whatever it is you’re scanning. Libraries use QR codes4 in a number of ways, such as finding where a section is on the stacks or instructional videos on how to use a printer. Some school libraries have implemented QR codes as a way to teach students how to use library services or become acquainted with the library stacks. Cerny and Holcomb of Virginia Libraries note by encouraging teens to join a library scavenger hunt to search the library in a fun, self directed way, it can help bridge the digital divide:
Engaging teens via this fun, interactive platform seems like a great way to promote library services to them, but there are other reasons why smartphone programming fits the mission of the public library. It has been suggested that smartphone proliferation could help bridge the digital divide between affluent and lower-income patrons and between white and racial minority groups. (Virginia Libraries)
Access to Research Librarians
Have a question but have no way to get to a library? Lots of public libraries have a real time chat feature on their websites that can be accessed via a smart phone. For example, Arlington Public Library offers live help via online chat during normal business hours. Some college libraries have a round the clock manned eDesk with real research librarians that can answer questions. UC Santa Cruz university library has a 24/7 Ask a Librarian feature that puts you in touch with either a UCSC librarian or a librarian from another library, making it easy to get research questions answered no matter the time of day (or night).
|Person holding a smart phone. Image via Pexels.com.|
Library Mobile Apps
Libraries have invested in technology making an app an extension of their physical and online presence. San Diego city library system has several apps that can be downloaded via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Users can manage their accounts online, find locations of the branch nearest them, search for books and place holds on them, search and download eBooks and eAudiobooks, and even access research databases all from their smart phones
With the growing use of smart phones, more libraries will take advantage of mobile technology creating a wider circle of use, and making public and school libraries an even more valuable community resource.
Renee Shelton - Sand and Succotash Blog