30 Days of Innovation #13: Go Mobile

Have you looked at your library’s mobile website lately? Is it a little clunky but mostly functional, like mine? Is it just a squishy version of your full site? Does it work on all mobile platforms?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not thrilled with the mobile version of my site, but then again I’m not thrilled with the full version of my site–it’s just a WordPress blog that I keep tweaking to suit my needs. It’s a huge step up from the site I inherited when I started here, though, which was really just a collection of links on a school website that looked like it was stuck in a mid-nineties time loop (as so many educational sites, unfortunately, do; ours has thankfully gotten a facelift since then).

I don’t have much control over my mobile site right now because I don’t host my own site or do much of my own coding–I use a WordPress template, although I do a lot with widgets and pages–but I do take a look at our site on my phone from time to time to see if WordPress has made any changes to the mobile version, and make sure mobile visitors still have access to the features they need. And what do they need?
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28 Days of Teens & Tech #19: Database Mobility

For months now, School Librarian and SLJ blogger, Joyce Valenza, has been raving about Cengage Gale’s iPhone appAccess My Library,” ‘ which allows students and other library users access to their library’s Gale subscription databases.

But Cengage Gale is not the only vendor in the mobile marketplace. ‘ Other library reference services are also available on mobile devices. These services may not have “apps” per se, but they often provide a version of their resources that is more accessible to users on the go.

Here are some of the subscription services with mobile offerings:

Have you made sure your library is set up to take advantage of these great resources? If your library pays for this service, make sure you get your full money’s worth! Then, once you’ve contacted your customer support services and improved your mobility, don’t forget to spread the word to your teens via email, QR codes, facebook, twitter, etc. ‘ And if you want to get your own library mobile, you can check this blog post for more suggestions.

I’m sure I’ve missed some other mobile reference tools, so what else is out there? Does your library have a mobile presence? ‘ Tell us: How have you shared the great news of library mobility with your teens?

App of the Week: MoMA

Name: MoMA, Museum of Modern Art
Platform: For iPhone and iPod touch
Cost: Free

Contemporary art can be one the weakest areas of school and public library collections. When teens want more about a modern artist than the one or two plates in the Abrams histories, the free MoMA app can be a tremendous boon.’  Through the iPhone and iPod touch, the MoMA app features unprecedented mobile access to the collection, including a digital image for most works.

The app will appeal to art lovers of all ages, but is ideal for both self-guided study and whole-group instruction as it features comprehensive artists’ biographies, an integrated database of subject terms from Grove Art Online, and particularly high quality digital images. Breradcrumbs link artists thematically through headings like Primitivism or 1930s Drawings. You can browse by artist, medium or through movement.

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App of the Week: Evernote

Name: Evernote

Platform: iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile

Cost: Free for basic account; $5/month or $45/year for premium account

I have only recently become an Evernote user, having wanted to try it for a long time as a tool for researchers of all ages. As it stands now, I certainly don’t use it to its full capacity; that would require more time to immerse myself in it than I have. But I do believe that this app could be of use both to librarians and to teens. Here’s why.

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Living in the Cloud

Lately I’ve had a few computer malfunctions in my life. The laptop I used for work was stolen, and the hard drive on my computer at home had a crash that even spin rite couldn’t fix. I lost some documents I was currently working on, but thankfully I’d been saving most of my important documents to a shared work drive. Since these debacles I’ve been making sure I save in multiple places and even invested in a service called Mozy to back up my files at home.

I wanted to share with you what tools I’ve been using to help offset another computer disaster:
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Sharing Computers Without a Footprint

Many libraries have one reference desk, where adult, teen, and youth services work together to provide service for the public. This is a great way to provide consistent access to an expert, but can be disorienting when you are forced to use default computer browsers.

One tool my colleagues and I have been using to fix this is portable USB drives.

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Iphone

Apple recently reached over 10K apps in the Iphone catalog. I’ve been reading about the iPhone and development of smart phones over the past year. Intrigued and also captivated by the ever increasing shiny.

While I have a smart phone, Its not an iPhone. I’ve really not seen many teens with an iPhone or iPod touch. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough though.

All this development for smart phones has me wondering how many libraries are truly prepared for this new trend. Many report that Android will give iPhone a run for its money. I’ve found a few libraries have dabbled in mobile website development, but not many.

My question is this: What services does you library offer via mobile phone? Do you allow people to text with a librarian, or IM using a service that works on peoples phones?

Is you website mobile friendly? Take w3C mobile OK test

Do you have a Apple App? (Recently I read about this site that creates an app for small businesses. Is this something suitable for libraries?)

Read report by Admob

Find out more about mobile usability

Smart Pen

I was at Target today and I saw and interesting “thing” that got me thinking about school supplies. Livescribe has created a pen that not only records audio, but if you are taking notes on the specal paper will be able to play back the lecture when you tap on your notes. There is a usb attached to the pen so you can copy your notes into your computer as a image or as a video that replays the notes you took while playing the lecture.

This sounds really cool, especially for students who stuggle to learn in traditional lectures. However the pen costs about $150, and the paper goes for $20 for 400 sheets. This seems very expensive for students to use. I would hate to loose one of these pens if I was 13. I’d love to see teachers provide classroom sets but until every student has their own personal computer I doubt smart pen will be on a school’s supply list.

Matrix Project

The purpose of the Matrix Project is to “use mobile technology and electronic games to make learning relevant and addictive.”

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, small technologies such as iPods, PDAs, and digital video and techniques from electronic games will be used to capture the interest of middle schoolers and improve math and reading achievement. Schools and community centers with after school programs in Ohio, Kansas, New Mexico, and California are the initial participants.

Thinking in terms of this project in relation to teens and the public library, here are a few things:

1. The design principles for this project reflect a similarity to the developmental asset model many librarians already use to guide their work–except in a framework that is more exploratory and allows for more constant and purposeful change of the participant.

2. Matrix partners are “educators and researchers, software and game developers, and curriculum designers” who are concerned about the lack of interest in middle schoolers in math.
–What about dialoguing with game developers for using strategies to capture interest of library users?

3. “Researchers and observant teachers are beginning to ask how the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies and electronic games might be used to support children’s formal learning.”
–Check out this upcoming audio conference on September 20, 1-2:30pm sponsored by the Urban Libraries Council which will address in part how techniques from electronic games such as information gathering, building expertise in subject areas, and encouraging group work apply to libraries. Presentations for this audio conference will be given by Jenny Levine, and Beth Gallaway.

4. –How can we/how are we already using mobile technologies more as libraries?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki