The SCR CONNECTions webinar, Unwrapping Mobile Technology Trends for the New Year is now available in the SCR CONNECTions archives http://nnlm.gov/scr/training/webmeeting.html#Archives. The PowerPoint presentation which has a lot of great links to the references she mentions is also available on the website.
The webinar is very good for librarians new to the area of mobile devices. Emily Hurst, the presenter, discusses smartphones, tablets and e-readers. Mobile devices in libraries is still fairly new. According to Emily’s survey most of the people attending the webinar use them for education and instruction, but there were still those who don’t use it in the library. What was interesting was LSU mentioned in the chat that they use mobile devices to check off campus access. That is how the systems librarian and I use our personal mobile devices at work too. Often we are told a resource is unavailable off campus, but of course we are told this while we are work (on campus). Now when we are notified of problems either the systems librarian or I turn off wifi on our smartphone and use 3G to access the off campus server and then try and access the problem resource for troubleshooting.
Emily also described the differences between mobile sites and mobile apps. There was a brief discussion about the pros and cons for each. Emily asked the question, “Providing direct access to a specific type of data, program, or information on a mobile device is best archived with a… mobile site or mobile app?” While most of the people in the webinar answered mobile app, I feel the question was kind of a loaded one. I think the real answer is, “it depends.” It depends on how you want to use the resource, does it need to be loaded and “on” all the time regardless of 3G or wifi connectivity? If so then you need an app. How often does the information change and how robust is your computer programming skills? If your information changes quite often and you don’t have a cadre of computer programmers then you need to go with an mobile website. Finally you need to think cross platform. If all of your users have iPhones then that is great you only need to develop one app. But if your users have a variety of devices and you don’t have variety of programmers, you might consider a mobile site which can be read by any mobile device.
Two valuable resources Emily mentions are CNET’s Updates Tablets Test Results and Yale’s Mobile Device Options for Healthcare Professional. CNET’s is a listing comparing LOTS of tablet devices with each other so that people can make an informed decision as to which one they would like. The nice thing is this list is updated regularly. Yale’s is a listing of various resources (phone and tablet) and healthcare things to consider prior to purchasing a device.
The last technology discussed was the e-reader. The nice thing about Kindle is you DON’T have to have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app on your Android, iPhone or iPad. It is important to remember that e-readers aren’t just for books. Librarians might want to consider creating or selecting PDFs, Word docs, audio files, or collection of works for specific users or groups. This works especially well in outreach and education endeavors. Suzanne Shurtz and Megan von Isenburg describe using e-readers in medical education (Shurtz, S., & von Isenburg, M. (2011). Exploring e-readers to support clinical medical education: two case studies Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA, 99 (2), 110-117 DOI: 10.3163/1536-5050.99.2.002) and although medical students did use them at the bedside they said they were very helpful in their studies.
Mobile devices are a part of our daily lives. The largest growth in smartphones was from women and older individuals, as Emily notes this really indicates that smartphones have gone mainstream. This is a great webinar for those new to the technology in medical libraries.