A Whirlwind Tour of Mobile Tools

The audience members were warned to fasten their seat belts—this was going to be a fast-paced tour through the world of mobile tools and applications for libraries. More of our patrons are relying on handheld tools for all kinds of needs, so it’s only natural they would want to use them for their information needs. It is the responsibility of librarians to be able to assist patrons with using their devices for accessing content. Megan Fox of Simmons College knows her mobile gadgets—I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak before.  
She looked at the mobile market, the latest devices, the variety of content available, tools for library staff, and much more. She said that 75 percent of all U.S. adults have cell phones—surpassing land lines; 90 percent of college students have cell phones; 95 percent of active U.S. mobile phones support text messaging and 62 percent subscribe to the service. 
She showed the m300 watch, which is also a cell phone. Multimedia is very hot on most of the new devices. On some multifunction cell devices the sound quality is so good that they can replace the need for an MP3 player. Some new devices have motion-activated scrolling of a Web page—cool! 
Here’s just a quick summary of what she covered.
Sites specifically optimized for mobile content are now using the .mobi designation. A public library is Illinois has activated a new .mobi site for its users.
OPAC vendors have been developing new interfaces for mobile access.
Answers.com has released a mobile interface for patrons needing answers on the go.
The medical, health, and legal vendors were among the first content providers to provide mobile versions. This has been followed by news providers.
More and more content is available via SMS/Texting.
Some libraries have bought iPods, loaded them with ebooks, and allow users to borrow them.
LibriVox offers free downloads of audio books.
A company called Guide by Cell provides audio guided tours via cell phone for exhibits, displays, tours, etc.
We’ve had time-shifted TV; well now there’s place-shifted TV—with viewing on your mobile device.
Library staff are also using handheld devices to make their behind-the-scenes work more efficient.
But, look out, new business models may provide advertising on your cell phone in exchange for a discount on your bill. 
Her slides and links will be available at: http://web.simmons.edu/~fox/mobile.
Paula J. Hane

News Bureau Chief, ITI

Comments are closed.