This is my continuing series on emerging technology trends and libraries. This week’s trend focuses on mobility.
Mobility – mobile access, mobile devices, great wifi, etc. … believe it or not, this is still an emerging trend for libraries. So let’s discuss it a bit!
I just checked my library’s website analytics – right now, about 45% of people visiting the library’s website are using some type of mobile device. Your library’s customers are using smartphones and tablets to do stuff on your website.
What do these customers need? A mobile-friendly website, a variety of apps, easy access to great wifi when they are in your building, and easy access to power, so they can recharge.
Can your library meet those needs? Not all libraries can. Here’s what I mean:
Websites: Some websites use responsive or adaptive design, so it adjusts for different screen sizes. But in the library world, many websites aren’t there yet. Some have mobile apps, but those don’t necessarily access everything that lives on the website. If your website isn’t here yet, that’s something to fix.
Mobile apps: Most likely, you have access to some mobile apps already. For example, if your library offers Overdrive or Hoopla, you have mobile apps. You might have a mobile app for easier access to your catalog or library events. You might even have a mobile app version of your website. If you have any of these things, you at least need a page on your website that points to all your mobile apps, and to the app stores so they can be easily downloaded.
Great wifi: Notice I said “great” wifi. “Robust” is another good word here. There are some libraries that don’t offer great wifi. When a lot of people use it, it slows down, or stops working. Or maybe there isn’t great coverage throughout the building. I’ve even seen at least one library that only allows wifi access through the library card. If you don’t have a library card, you are out of luck (not the friendliest way to do it, in my opinion). These are definitely things that can be improved!
Power outlets: You have them, and your customers are using them.. Do they have to move furniture or unplug lamps to access them? And yes, I’m saying this because I’ve seen students moving tables and chairs, or sitting on the floor. I’ve seen customers unplug lamps to access the power outlet at my library. If any of these things are happening, think about rearranging things so your power outlets are easier to get to. If that won’t work, maybe get some type of power charging station or recharging devices that can be borrowed. Also think about keeping a box of mobile device cables behind the desk, for people who need to recharge but forgot their cable.
Most important thing is this (especially for your wifi signal): this stuff is always changing, so it’s not something you can budget once and be done with. It’s an every year thing. Check usage and up your bandwidth accordingly, before it becomes a problem.
Thoughts? What am I leaving out?