Mobile technologies in libraries - share your ideas - Jo Alcock Consulting
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Mobile technologies in libraries – share your ideas

Mobile technologies in libraries – share your ideas

Mobile text polling with PollEverywhere

Mobile text polling with PollEverywhere

I am delighted to be speaking at the 2011 CoFHE Conference next month on mobile technologies in libraries. My interest in mobile technologies largely stems from my own experimentation with various different mobile apps and thinking about how they can be applied to a library setting. I’ve blogged previously about some mobile library apps (and played with many more on my iPhone/iPad), discussed some of the potential uses of QR codes in the library (which have been popping up in lots of places since I blogged about them), and talked about the way I supported enquiries using mobile devices. Over the past few months I’ve been collecting various emails, blog posts and articles on mobile technology use in libraries to share during my presentation, but I’d like to open it up further to get some more practical examples to share during my presentation.

So, what cool stuff have you been doing in your library with mobile technologies? Or what would you like to try? Do you have any links to blog posts or articles about innovative things libraries are doing with mobile technologies? Please add your comment below or tweet @joeyanne using #cofhemobapps. Looking forward to hearing from you!


  • Ned Potter
    Posted at 09:02h, 06 May Reply

    I hope we don’t start making library apps because we feel we should, rather than because we they might have a specific use. I like the idea of them, but it’s important they don’t just duplicate the website or whatever – having a mobile version of the catalogue is one thing, but an app has to add value to avoid being an empty excercise.

    In an ideal (and financially unrestricted…) world, I think Augmented Reality could have numerous applcations in a library setting. If it was integrated with the catalogue so it could lead the user to resources relevant to their search, that would be fabulous.

    If money were no object I’d set up a room in Special Collections with empty display cabinets and nothing on the walls, and then have a series of virtual exhibitions showcasing the library’s digitial holdings, that you’d access by looking at them through your phone via Augmented Reality. Pictures on the walls, books, manuscripts – it would be fabulous.

    You’ve probably already seen this – University of Michigan is great at marketing, and this promotion for their mobile library is ace: 🙂

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 15:44h, 06 May Reply

      Thanks for sharing your ideas @twitter-94360076:disqus , definitely some potential in augmented reality apps, particularly for special collections, archives, museums etc.

      I agree that we shouldn’t just create mobile apps in an attempt to be cool, however I do think users should have a choice in how they access information about the library and the library resources (whether this is via a mobile version of the website, or a dedicated app). An app doesn’t necessarily need to do lots of fancy stuff I don’t think – even if it just had locations and opening hours on I think that would be useful (especially if it was downloaded to your device in case of no mobile internet access).

  • Leo S. Lo
    Posted at 20:40h, 09 May Reply

    Hi Jo,
    I recently gave a presentation at the IdeaPower Unconference at the ACRL Conference on the topic of “Linking the Physical Library to the Digital” (the blog version of the presentation is here: if you’re interested).

    After my presentation, a librarian from Utrecht University spoke with me and showed me her library’s really cool mobile site ( It has all the usually things, but they’ve worked with the university’s geography department to develop this new “available computers” option, which shows the user how many computers are available, and where they are on the library map. It’s quite wonderful. Hope you’ll find this useful for your presentation.


    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 21:17h, 09 May Reply

      Thanks very much for sharing @twitter-18520020:disqus – I love the use of mobile apps to let you know where there are free computers. I’ve seen a few examples of this, including the CampusM app that I blogged about previously – see

      This would have saved me so much time as a student!

  • Jo John
    Posted at 14:41h, 10 May Reply

    WorldCat has a mobile app and with the national public library it means everyone in UnityUK will have their holdings uploaded so visible en-masse. Also the Enquire service (80 Uk public libraries) has a qwidget which is not an app, but can be set as a bookmark (see but also you can do the same for other libraries local services offered via their Enquire subscription (see Wigan: / Calderdale: these can also be set as bookmarks from an iPhone/smartphone.

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 15:37h, 10 May Reply

      Thanks for your comment @5cc304956c848805c5a6e7189bc58ad1:disqus , I have previously blogged about the QuestionPoint mobile app (
      ) though had forgotten to include it in my presentation so thanks for the reminder!

      Will have another look at the WorldCat app – I did use it briefly when it was first launched but imagine there have been further developments since then.

  • Cath Marlowe
    Posted at 10:57h, 12 May Reply

    Jo I attended the Handheld Librarian conference this year and there were some good ideas from that – I’ve blogged about it here:

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 12:10h, 12 May Reply

      Thanks @c740e3ee570ccfebc8e96c86724ec661:disqus – really interesting, particularly the information about using SMS to support enquiries. That’s definitely going to be one of the areas I cover in my presentation; both mobile devices for the user (as in this case) and mobile devices for the library staff (e.g. when roving).

  • Tamara Cox
    Posted at 21:57h, 17 May Reply

     Happy to find your blog from the Salem Library Blog Awards. I’m interested in mobile tech as well and will be presenting this summer on using mobile tech in K-12. We use cells for voting with Poll Everywhere, QR codes posted in the library and on books. I also teach my students about ChaCha. Do you have that in the UK? You text a question to 242242 and they text back an answer. Keep up the good work on your blog.

    • Jo Alcock
      Posted at 22:44h, 17 May Reply

      Hi Tamara, I’m glad you found my blog – it’s always nice to find other people with similar interests. Thanks for the lovely compliment too 🙂

      I haven’t come across ChaCha before so will definitely check that out and see if it’s available in the UK. I’m a big fan of PollEverywhere (I blogged about it previously –, and I’m planning on using it during the session if I can; I’m not sure of facilities at venue yet but hopefully I’ll have an internet connection to enable live updating of results. 

      How have you been using QR codes? I’d be interested in hearing about any innovative ideas with QR codes – they seem to be becoming more mainstream now. 

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