App Advisory at the Library

my first screen of appsLibraries have recommended stuff to customers for years. Reader’s advisory. Video suggestions. New music to listen to. Ways to start a research project.

Why not app advisory?

Think about it. What do over half of your customers have? Smartphones. And easy access to the app store. What they don’t have is a trusted app “curator” – someone who can recommend the best apps.

What would that look like? I’ll start us off:

  • Best new apps of the month
  • Popular apps
  • Apps connected to a season (i.e., it’s summer, so apps with grilling suggestions. Yes, they exist).
  • Suggestions on how to use an app
  • And of course, you’d mention library-related apps. Ebook apps. Your ILS app, if you have one. etc.

This also means that we would need to have easy access to apps, and have a small app budget. And a variety of smartphones and tablets – both iOS and Android – to play with.

App recommendation for your community. Could be cool. What do you think?

Addicted to your Smartphone?

In my last article, I talked about the silliness of a CEO’s belief that smartphones are bad. There is another side to that coin – some people are really, truly addicted to their favorite mobile device. Or at least “have issues.”

If you are one of those, what can you do? Here are some suggestions, culled from the depths of Google (ok – just the first 8 or so articles that I found):

  1. Turn off notifications. I do this with email (because I get too much). I manually check email on my iphone, rather than having my iphone alert me to email every minute or so. Works great.
  2. Uninstall apps if they become a problem.
  3. Turn on Airplane Mode when you need to focus.
  4. Don’t answer the phone/text/email/tweet/etc. Some people even schedule times during the day to process emails/voicemails/social media replies, etc.
  5. Charge your phone somewhere other than your bedroom. Or, some smartphones let you set a “no notifications” time.
  6. Use a “smartphone addiction” app like Moment or Breakfree
  7. Do something that doesn’t involve your phone.
  8. Or, just turn it off. You’ll save battery life, too!

Control your device – don’t let your device control you!

Image by Buzzfarmers

Put the iPhone Down

smartphones and feature phonesI just saw this article (via Beth Kanter’s Twitter feed) about the evils of smartphones. In this particular article, Sheldon Yellen talks about being a more effective CEO by continuing to use his old flip phone.

He says this: “… keeping my flip phone and saying “no” to constant interruptions was one of my most profitable business decisions.” He then goes on to talk about all the distractions that a smartphone introduces (like he’d know, since he still uses a flip phone).

He then talks about how distracting smartphones can be: “One of the main factors in my decision was the distraction that smartphones introduce. I’ve seen people stare under the table in meetings, glued to an app rather than contributing.” Yeah. So, when you were noticing your employees checking their email rather than being attentive in your meetings? That means the meeting was boring. Stop holding boring meetings! Problem solved.

Then Sheldon provides four “benefits” to going without a smartphone. Here’s the list of benefits with my comments:

1. Increased efficiency. He thinks that freeing oneself from smartphone apps makes you more productive. Then he talks about how Facebook costs U.S. employers $28 billion in lost productivity annually. First of all, the article Sheldon points to doesn’t mention anything about the Facebook mobile app, so it’s a bad comparison for his article. Secondly, there are quite a few articles that talk about how Facebook makes employees MORE productive at work. And of course, there’s the added irony that his own company has a Facebook Page.

2. Direct Communication. Here, he’s confusing his preferred method of communication (phone calls and taking notes by hand) with something that works for everyone. Simply not true. For example, I type faster than I write, and when I want to remember something, I email it to myself and stick it in a folder for later recall.

3. More mental exercise. Sheldon thinks that doing things like calculating tips makes your brain work better, rather than relying on smartphones. Hmm … have any proof of that? Because there are plenty of articles that claim our digital devices just might be making us smarter.

4. Business diplomacy. Sheldon doesn’t really talk about “business diplomacy” here. He talks about Facebook friends not being real friends, and how it’s better to talk to people offline. Sure. Agreed. But … that doesn’t really have anything whatsoever to do with owning a smartphone. So … ??

I’m pretty sure most of you lovely readers know this – owning a smartphone is not the issue here. Here’s what I’d suggest to Sheldon: get a smartphone and really learn how to use it. Use it for 3-6 months. Have someone help you find some really useful productivity apps.

Then write another article about the experience. Hard to write about the evils of a smartphone if you’ve never owned one!

Phone photo by Thord Daniel Hedengren

Four Tips to Make Mobile Video ROCK

In my recent post Online Video for 2013, I mentioned that 91% of American adults owned some kind of cell phone, and 41% of cell phone owners watch video on their phones.

What’s that mean? If you are making videos, they need to look and sound awesome on a smartphone! Here are four tips to make mobile video ROCK:

  1. Keep it short. With online video, the shorter the better. Especially if you’re watching it on your smartphone. A short video will load faster, and fits well with the “short snack” usage of smartphones (that “I’ve got a minute – let’s play with my smartphone” attitude).
  2. Make it loud. Audio is arguably the most important part of a video. Especially for libraries, since we’re most likely sharing some tidbit of information. So crank that volume up! There are a couple of great ways to do that. For starters, definitely get a better microphone for your camera, preferably one with a volume boost. Also, when editing, look for a volume boost setting, and turn it up (but not so far that you start distorting the sound – that’s bad).
  3. Get close. When making your video, get close to your subject. If it’s an interview, make sure the person being interviewed can be clearly seen on your camera’s window. So no “far away, full body” shots. Same with scenery shots – get as close as possible when it makes sense.
  4. Edit that script. For starters, actually HAVE a script of some sort. Not a “memorize these lines, say it exactly this way” type of script. Most of us librarians aren’t actors, after all. But do have an outline of points you want to cover or facts you need to share. Also, make sure to share one idea or thought, rather than 2-4 ideas or thoughts. Instead of one longer 5-6 minute video with ALL the facts, break that video up into a 3-part series of 1-2 minute videos.

Who is successfully making videos out there? Do you have some tips on mobile video that I haven’t mentioned? Please share them in the comments!

Using Visual Tools as Reminder Helpers

Do you use your smartphone’s camera as a reminder helper? I sure do! Check this video out – in it, I offer two simple tips (one involving my iPhone camera) to remember where you parked your car at the airport.

I also use my iPhone camera to help me remember things like this:

  • Books I want to read. I take photos of books I want to read (yes, I take photos of book covers at Barnes & Noble, then check them out at the library).
  • Errands at a store. If I need to buy something that I have at home, like a certain cleaner, I will take a photo of the bottle, then use that to find the right one at the store.
  • Storing a reminder image for later. I actually have a photo of my vacuum cleaner bag package stored in Evernote. This way, when I’m out and about and remember “oh yeah, I need to buy vacuum cleaner bags,” I’ll be able to get the right one.

How about you? Do you use your camera to help you remember stuff? Let me know!