OCLC recently launched Library Spotlight, a new, free service that uses data from the WorldCat Registry to make it easier for users to find location and contact information for libraries using the web, and includes analytics tools to help libraries examine patron traffic trends or compare their collections and services to other libraries by location, local demographics, or other criteria.
In 2012, the usage of apps surpassed the usage of browsers on smartphones and tablets for the first time, according to recent data from digital business analytics provider comScore. The difference is still small—54.5 percent of mobile subscribers used apps in October 2012 compared to 52.7 percent using browsers—but the shift could mark a significant moment for mobile computing. As developers continue to enhance accessibility and incorporate features including cloud-based storage, geolocation, voice input, and visual input, native apps are making mobile devices something more than the sum of their component parts.
Thirteen percent of people aged 16 and older in the United States have used a mobile device to visit a library website or otherwise access library services, according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. This percentage has more than doubled since 2009 the report notes, citing an earlier survey conducted by researchers at the University of Washington.
Mobile app shop Boopsie has announced the Boopsie Star Program, which will help library vendors increase the visibility of their own mobile apps by making them available through library-branded Boopsie mobile portals. Boopsie apps already offer one-click access to vendors including Overdrive, Mango Languages, Tutor.com, Credo Reference, EBSCO, Gale/Cengage Learning, Recorded Books, and Library H3lp.
Using cell phones to explore websites that are not optimized for mobile devices can be a frustrating experience. Libraries should consider this more than an aesthetic issue, since mobile devices are the primary Internet access point for a growing number of their users. Almost 90 percent of U.S. adults now own a cell phone of some kind, and 55 percent of them use their phones to go online, according to a June report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Seventeen percent of respondents said they do “most” of their online browsing on their phone.
What if every ebook available from Project Gutenberg, along with songs and artwork produced within your local community, could be stored on a flash drive and be distributed wirelessly using a pocket-sized router? This technology is already available through the open source, Creative Commons and GPLv2-licensed LibraryBox project led by Jason Griffey, head of Library IT at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Librarians and others are already using these devices to store and distribute ebooks, music, artwork, and other digital files.