Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Building a Fully Mobile Web Site - A Library's Experience

Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase

A recent article in Reference Services Review (38.2, 2010) lays out a case in support of a fully mobile library web site. In fact, the article starts off with the position that “now” is definitely the time to develop a fully mobile web site.

Mobile / smart phone use has increased at an unbelievable pace, and the unique statistic about mobile phone usage is that it cuts across demographic and income barriers - the availability of a wide range of products to choose from has given the industry a definite advantage over other “gadget” industries. The paper actually quotes some fascinating International Telecommunication Union (ITU) statistics:
mobile phones have gone from a 5 percent worldwide penetration rate ten years ago to an estimated 61 percent penetration rate in 2008 (International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 2009a). Currently there are more mobile phone subscriptions, which are estimated at 4 billion, than landlines, which are estimated at 1.3 billion...
The mobile phone has, in less developed countries, provided a service without needing to spend and build an immense landline infrastructure (think of China)...hence the immense numbers of people using them. And in the “power” nations of the world, the only obstacle to the growth of mobile / smart phone use in certain workplaces is demographics and workflow culture, both of which have their days numbered.

Of course, the big mobile players which will bring about imminent changes in work culture, activities, and expectations, are the web-enabled phones: the BlackBerry, the iPhone, the Android. An EDUCAUSE Center study in the fall of 2009 found that “51 percent of undergraduate respondents owned a web-enabled phone and another 12 percent planned to purchase one in the next 12 months; 74 percent of the students who had web-enabled phones expected their use of the Internet from their phone to increase within the next three years”; this is the future of our workplace.

Here’s the abstract for the paper, and it provides the information in the context of the Oregon State University Libraries process and approach to developing a mobile library web site:
The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the current state of worldwide mobile usage; mobile technologies; libraries' use of mobile technologies including a review of library mobile catalog options, both vendor-supplied and in-house created; perspectives from current library leaders and innovators on the importance of incorporating the libraries' resources into the mobile environment; and future directions for mobile library services.
A worthwhile read for any library. To access the article visit the page for it at the Scholars Archive@OSU, or simply access it directly.