Quick & Dirty Way to Make a Library App

Recently I was talking with some medical librarians who mentioned that a lotl their medical students or residents want a library app for their phone or tablets.  These librarians are either solo librarians, librarians with no programming skills, or librarians who are institutions with some restrictive IT policies.  Basically they either don’t have the time, skills or permission to create an app for the library.

But there is a work around to this problem if you/they have an iOS or Android device.  Its a cheat because it isn’t a true app, but it does look like one on the phone’s screen.  Think of it more as a bookmarked page that looks like an app.

Follow these instructions:

Go to the web page you want to make as an “app” and then tap on the square with the arrow at the bottom of the phone screen.

LibraryApp 002

 

Tap “Add to Home Screen”

LibraryApp 001

 

Name it something short and descriptive and then tap Add.  Beware: long names get cut off.

LibraryApp 003

 

It appears as an app on your phone’s screen. Note the picture is of the web page you chose, so if it might be very white or boring looking. But hey it is on the phone.

LibraryApp 004

I don’t have an Android phone so I don’t have screen shots, but my coworker, Kim, gave me the instructions for Android users.

  1. Bookmark the page
  2. Go into Bookmarks menu
  3. Click and hold on the bookmark
  4. Choose “Add Shortcut to Home”

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a true app.  But I consider it a quick and dirty way of getting an app like presence on your patron’s devices.

6 thoughts on “Quick & Dirty Way to Make a Library App”

  1. Krafty
    Those are instructions for ios6 for ios7 the “square/arrow” looks different more of a box with arrow going straight up and it is now at the top of screen to the left of the URL.. If you are bookmarking a libguide a very nice looking L comes up as the picture.

  2. Krafty Librarian this is not an app at all it is really just a bookmark.

    If your site is not responsive or optimized for a mobile device then the students or residents that want an app will not likely be satisfied with this solution.

  3. I totally know this is not an app. I said it wasn’t an app. But it is a quick and dirty way to get your library page on their device without actually creating an app. Most medical librarians do not have the programming ability, time, or permission to create an app for the library site. When patrons come in looking for an app to the library page I would argue they are just wanting a little square on their device’s “desk top” for easy access to the library. Which is a lot easier than memorizing a website.

    I agree the site should be formatted for mobile devices. But again we run into the very real practical problems that most hospital librarians face when it comes to their library websites. Many HAVE NO CONTROL over anything more than the content. Many hospital require their departments to use a specific software or content management system to maintain their pages. Depending on the CMS hospitals can also control whether your library even can have a mobile site. There are tricks to making a mobile friendly website without programming it as a mobile site, but hospital librarians are really dependent on their IT department’s permissions.

    If a library has LibGuides, then they are fortunate because Libguides already formats things to be mobile friendly. I would also say that mobile friendly is more important for the use of cell phones than tablets. As long as you aren’t using flash, tablets often display traditional websites quite well. More and more doctors are using iPads in the hospital, so I am all for getting some sort of icon (regarless of whether it is a bookmark or a real app) front and center on their device reminding them of the library.

  4. If you are a libguide user you can change the icon and add a bit of JavaScript to change the name on the screen. I just did it for our guides. Works great!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>