Mobile Technologies

At my institution, we’re doing a fair amount of thinking about mobile technologies. We have a text-a-librarian service, and a really nice iphone interface for the library catalog. But as we think towards a future of Palm PREs and 3G networks, I can’t help but wonder… is the world of art librarianship ready? Try, for example, searching ARTstor on a mobile device (or even a netbook). Even the Kindle is not particularly suited toward viewing images (let alone *using* those images in a research context).

So… what do you think? Where do we need to go in order to be ready for a mobile research world? Are there examples that we could follow? Are there things that we should push for as a profession? I’d love to hear other thoughts.


  1. I think it’s absolutely necessary to partner with both our institution’s IT, within our own library communities, and with businesses that are developing software & hardware.

    We need to determine users’ current need and build flexible applications that can address future needs. We then need to share our best practices so that other libraries can adopt and localize. This will need to be done in a collaborative atmosphere with proprietary mechanisms kept to a minimum.

    That written, one of my profs 3 years ago indicated that, while the digital divide was being met, the mobile divide will be the next wave. I happened to agree and still do.

    As we develop, discuss, and market services for mobile devices, are we continuing to escalate the divide? I’m especially concerned over developing apps that are particularly for 1 device–the iPhone.

  2. Bryan, you’ve made THE point when you say “I’m especially concerned over developing apps that are particularly for 1 device–the iPhone.”

    When you look at the last 5-7 years, and how we chased the zeitgeist, you’ll see that we quickly moved from email to blog to facebook/youtube and then twitter, etc., without really developing anything earth-shattering in any of those formats. The web-based course tools have been really difficult as well when we try to deliver content that originates from a variety of sources.

    Everytime we think we’ve discovered our users needs and preferred formats, they change their minds.

    No matter what we develop, it has to exist as a supplement to what we do, not a replacement for another format. The more we try to get away from our roots, the more we fail to succeed. What does this tell us?

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