July 23, 2014

Product Watch: A Look at Four Mobile Offerings

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Mobile library services are a leading innovation trend in libraries in 2012. New products on the market are responding to growing user demand for self-service via mobile devices, as well as support for service providers and integration with existing library technologies and social networks. The newest features demonstrate an increased emphasis on interactivity, including SMS text announcements and alerts, patron account management tools, self-check, seamless search and access to ebooks and other e-resources, as well as advanced options supporting QR codes, augmented reality, and geolocation. In this installment of Product Watch, LJ looks at a selection of four different mobile products and services, and how libraries will be making use of them now and in the future.

FANGGLE
PRODUCTS Fanggle offers a suite of products for the mobile library community, including SMS notifications, two-way communication, mobile website and mobile apps, QR code services, Library TV, and social media services. It provides “an ecosystem of products and solutions in mobile and social media,” says Ed Baryluk, executive VP of sales. Customers can select à la carte services to customize mobile offerings. To that end, Fanggle has developed a “Mobile & Social Roadmap for Libraries,” which libraries can use to review mobile options at a glance, jump in at any point to try new services, or build upon existing mobile services by adding products with advanced features. While not as complete a solution as Boopsie, Fanggle plans to provide personalized library experiences through mobile check-ins, audio notification of new arrivals within the library, NFC (near field communication) tags and QR codes, and augmented reality–enabled interactive exhibits. Fanggle anticipates that libraries may need individual support in selecting mobile services and works with libraries on a “case-by-case basis” to determine the right products, says Baryluk.

IN THE LIBRARY CCPL, which is also a Boopsie customer, is in its third year as a Fanggle client and reports positive feedback. About 26,000 patrons have signed up for text message notices, which includes the option to renew items by SMS, reports Ranallo. “Fanggle’s product is robust,” says Ranallo. “Fanggle worked with us to develop a flexible, customizable product to meet our needs.” CCPL sends out an average of 400 text message notices per day to patrons and also uses text messaging for staff alerts.

PRICE Fanggle’s pricing is based on institution, service, and customization. Products described in the “Mobile & Social Roadmap for Libraries” are available individually and are adaptable to meet library specifications.

BOOPSIE
PRODUCT Boopsie’s mobile application provides multiple library services on a single mobile platform and is available for iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) and Android. In addition to catalog search, text message reference, library information, and patron account features, Boopsie for Libraries provides “one-click access to ebooks from OverDrive,” says CEO Greg Carpenter, and the company plans to integrate more ebooks and e-resources in the near future with developing partnerships.

Boopsie offers an Optimum package, which includes BookLookMobile, allowing patrons to scan an ISBN code anywhere, check availability of that item in the library, and place a hold, and BookCheck, a self-check feature now used in more than 150 libraries. Boopsie’s customer base is approximately 60 percent public libraries and 40 percent academic libraries, although more features are anticipated for the academic library market, such as further integration with library research databases and university mobile ­platforms.

IN THE LIBRARY Jeremy Graybill, marketing and communications director at Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR, describes the library’s experience working with Boopsie as “fantastic” since it launched the app in April 2011. The library determined through local research that “adding a mobile app was a prime driver for patrons to use the library more,” says Graybill. “The mobile app is another way for us to satisfy our patrons’ voracious need for library information on the go and at the speed of their lives. For us, going mobile was a no-brainer, and Boopsie was a great partner.” Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL), OH, which was a beta partner on the SMS app, has also had good success with Boopsie, according to Rebecca Ranallo, CCPL’s Internet and media services manager. “Both Boopsie and Fanggle have been very responsive and willing to customize,” she says.

PRICE Boopsie has a seven-tiered pricing structure for public and academic libraries, based on size and enrollment.

MOSIO
PRODUCT Mosio’s Text a Librarian is a popular choice among more than 800 public and academic libraries. Its recently announced Patron Relationship Management (PRM) features enable two-way communication between libraries and patrons, who can sign up for the service using a website widget or by simply sending a text to the library’s keyword for instructions. The new service, which offers alerts, announcements, and library-initiated text communication with participating patrons, was at press time scheduled to go live in late February.

“We are seeing a lot of excitement from libraries about the ability to initiate permission-based conversations with patrons through text message alerts and announcements,” says Noel Chandler, CEO and cofounder of Mosio. “It increases engagement and has big potential in expanding patron communications beyond virtual reference.”

Patrons can choose to be contacted by phone, email, or text message. In addition, individual patron inter­actions remain threaded.

IN THE LIBRARY Lisa Pappas, assistant director at Plainfield Public Library, IL, anticipates that Mobile PRM “has a lot of potential for us.” Plainfield PL has been a Text a Librarian customer for two years and receives an average of 200 text message reference questions per month. Pappas describes Text a Librarian as simple to learn and easy to use and plans to use Mobile PRM announcements to promote library programs. Most appealing? The price, as Mosio is rolling out these new features without additional costs. “We’re dealing with a tight budget,” says Pappas. “We wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.”

PRICE Mobile PRM features are an enhancement to the existing Text a Librarian service and are free to current customers. Pricing information is available online, and plans are prorated midyear for new customers.

SIRSIDYNIX
PRODUCT While the BookMyne mobile app is competitive with Boopsie, it is compatible solely with the SirsiDynix ILS. It was developed by SirsiDynix and first released in 2010 for iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) and Android devices. BookMyne 3.0 is free to existing customers; the recently unveiled BookMyne+ is a customizable version available for a fee. The app offers mobile catalog searching, patron account support, barcode scanning, and direct integration with social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. In addition, patrons can use BookMyne to find a library nearby, create virtual bookshelves and place holds, find social recommendations via Goodreads, use PayPal to pay fines, and more.

David King, VP of product management at SirsiDynix, says that “no matter where [patrons] are, they’ll have access to the library.” Users can also access subscribed resources through the app. Project Gutenberg ebooks are available to search and download, and further ebook partners were to be announced at March’s Public Library Association conference. BookMyne’s expanded access to e-content through “eResource Central” is set for wide release in June.

IN THE LIBRARY Eddie Smith, executive director of the Abilene Library Consortium, TX, says members have been very pleased with the BookMyne 3.0 app. They’ve been using BookMyne for nearly two years and were beta testers. One member of the consortium, Abilene Christian University, is “a global leader in mobile learning,” says Smith, “so it was important for them to have mobile access to the catalog.” However, what’s been most useful to patrons are the account management features. “You’d think the predominant use would be searching the catalog but instead it’s use of the patron [self-service] features,” he says. “It’s easier to use the app to check your account than it is to do so with the traditional OPAC.”

PRICE BookMyne3.0 is free to SirsiDynix libraries; BookMyne+ includes library branding and other customization for a fee.

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Lisa Carlucci Thomas About Lisa Carlucci Thomas

Lisa Carlucci Thomas is the Director and Founder of Design Think Do, providing innovative consulting services to libraries, publishers, vendors and organizations. An experienced academic librarian and manager, Lisa writes about e-books, digital content, mobile culture, social media, and the emerging technology trends changing the way we communicate, research and interact with information. Lisa is a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and a 2009 ALA Emerging Leader. A graduate of Syracuse University, she previously worked at Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University. Visit Lisa’s website or follow her on Twitter as @lisacarlucci.

Comments

  1. Great article Lisa, thank you. I am the Director of Information Technology for the Fayetteville Public Library in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I would like to add some information regarding another innovator in the mobile apps for libraries industry, Hybrid Forge (http://www.hybridforge.com).

    Hybrid Forge has developed a suite of mobile offerings (and other products) that exploit the power of the Polaris ILS API. Hybrid Forge’s Owl iLibrary app is compiled for iPhone, iPad and Android platforms. Owl iLibrary has a slick and sexy interface and provides the patron with a mobile PAC containing enriched content, book reviews, patron account access, item renewal, holds placement and more. The apps were quickly adopted and embraced by our patron base with over 200+ new installations of the apps each month. January alone saw over 4,000 mobile PAC sessions from the iPhone app alone! Fayetteville Public Library has all three (iPhone, iPad, Android) versions available for patrons from the iTunes and Android app stores.

    Another innovation from Hybird Forge that the Fayetteville Public Library has adopted is their Elephant CMS. Based on the Drupal core with Hybrid Forge customization, the Elephant CMS also ties into the Polaris API to create a website experience for the patron that transforms the library website into a virtual branch. Patrons can browse an endless selection of virtual shelves (with jacket art) containing items from our collection and place holds on the item directly in the website. Like the Owl app, patrons can also renew items and cancel/place holds in the website without having to exit the site and go into the PAC.

    To view the Elephant CMS in action, visit our library website at http://www.faylib.org

    Lynn Yandell
    Director of Information Technology
    Fayetteville Public Library, Arkansas
    2012 Library Journal Mover and Shaker
    2012 Chair, Polaris Users Group

  2. Hi there,

    Thanks so much for the post! A quick note, not a big deal: none of the links to the sites work. You can see the company websites in the URL, but then it shows “Page not Found” – again, not a big deal, just a head’s up. :)

    Thanks again!

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