Topeka’s Mobile App

Topeka has it’s first mobile library app – brought to you via the fine folks at Boopsie!

In the pic on the left, you can see the icon as it displays on my iPhone. It’s the one that’s titled “Topek….brary.” Apparently, “Topeka Library” doesn’t fit underneath the icon on an iPhone. “Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library” certainly wouldn’t fit! Oh well – not completely unheard of – I’ve seen a couple other app icon titles that do that, too.

So go ahead, download it, and play with it. There’s an iPhone, Android, and Blackberry app. Or, pretty much any phone with browser capabilities can go to and you’ll either be directed to download the appropriate app or you’ll be dumped into the web version of the app.

Either way, pretty cool stuff for us!

Here’s what we’re doing with it. Check out the screenshot at the right (larger version here) – it’s the main page of the app. When creating the main functionality of the mobile app, our thinking went like this: when would someone use our mobile phone app, and what would they want to do with it?

We decided they’d be in line at the grocery store, or picking up their child from school. Or they’d be wherever, but have maybe a couple of minutes to quickly check on something. In those scenarios, how might they want to interact with the library?

Here’s what we came up with:

  • Library Catalog: search for something, put it on hold
  • My Account: see what’s due and renew it, etc
  • Ask a Librarian: ask a question – links provided for phone, text messaging, and email questions
  • Locations & Hours: links to addresses and maps for our main building, our bookmobile stops, and our book drop locations
  • Connect with us: links to our Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Flickr accounts
  • What’s missing? We wanted to know what our patrons wanted this app to do that wasn’t there yet, so we provided an easy way for them to tell us – it’s a simple form that sends an email to me.

What do our customers want to do that we’re not yet providing?

  • paying fines from their phones
  • checking out our calendar of events
  • checking out movies from our Mediabank DVD dispenser (it’s a separate catalog)

Otherwise, everyone that we’ve heard from has liked the app – we’re getting comments like “so cool! I already think we have the best library and then u show us just another reason to love @topekalibrary.”

Not bad at all!

CIL2009: Handhelds & Mobile

Ben Smith, Sheryl Bai, someone else…, Aaron Schmidt

First up – Handhelds at UCHC School of Medicine

PDA Program:

  • PDAs supported by the library since 2001
  • Library purchased PDAs for staff
  • Did an in-service class for staff
  • did some student and faculty training, too


Current PDA Initiative:

meet with faculty, then test handhelds, create instructions.

Train students so they can be a resource to ther students. Cool.

They hold PDA clinics, help them install apps, etc.


  • which handheld platform?
  • Windows Mobile 2003 or Mobile 5?
  • Smartphones?
  • They’re limited because they’ve developed stuff on Windows Mobile platform, so they have to use those…


  • two devices in one
  • cheaper
  • you have a phone contract too – have to make sure students understand this
  • screen resolution can be worse on a smartphone (aside – I love my iPhone)
  • not all have touch screen functionality

Handy software utilities:

  • dotPocket
  • DeepFreeze
  • ActiveSync
  • Microsoft Remote Display Control (displays the PDA on a computer screen, hence a live demo during a presentation)
  • My Mobiler
  • Windows Mobile Device Center

Chris Tonjes, Aaron Schmidt

Chris (CIO, DC Public Library)

their iphone app:

three layers – transaction layer, data layer, presentation layer (I think)


  • continue horizontal integration of our ILS
  • presents an alternative delivery of online catalog – like most, not happy with their ILS. So this gave them a great excuse to start experimenting
  • first foray into mobile world
  • leverages the power of the iTunes app store – the delivery method of the future
  • model for other projects
  • provides tangible near term ROI and extended library use and awareness
  • leverage! Code and analysis used for …
  • They have a blackberry version too
  • more online catalogs! playing with VuFInd
  • Integration/direct download target for content from our electronic resource providers 9Gale and Overdrive)
  • iPhone 3.0! Ecommerce – fine and other payments from within app!
  • model for near future projects (kindle or other readers)

Showing their release roadmap – they are planning for the future

DCPL iPhone App – fast facts:

  • 2199 downloads so far
  • 85 in the last week placed holds with it
  • works with SirsiDynix enterprise portal search discovery tool
  • plug in web service
  • took about 100 total hours of programming time
  • we can forecast LOE to modify for use with ibistro and elibrary
  • code available for download

DCPL SMS Text Msg – Bill

Reach out to the younger people is a goal

they send notices, announcements

patrons opt-in on website registration page

increase library event participation via same day notifications – great reminder of events.

messages and notices tailored to SMS limitations/requirements (ie., message size & delivery)

Normal txt stuff: small messages, if you have more than one to send, you have to do each as separate messages

Cost to the library = 0

They schedule the txt msgs in the middle of the day – important point. You don’t want them sent at 2am! And you WANT them sent when people can see them, for reminders…


in charge of how this should look and feel.

started making paper prototypes

Even did user testing with paper mock-ups to see if the idea worked

It IS possible to design a BAD iphone app… they wanted to avoid that

There’s a PSD element library for iphones so you can quickly create a photoshop mockup

Giving examples of how it works


QR codes,barcode reading.

HUGE potential for these mobile devices.