SRO was the seating arrangement for this morning's first session, Library Apps for Hand-Held Devices The session was presented by Penny Pugh, Head of Reference at West Virginia University Libraries. The focus of the session was the ways in which WVU has implemented these applications for their patron use.
Pugh cited a Pew's Mobile Access Report that was released in July 2010. Not surprisingly, study revealed that mobile Internet usage has grown by more than 8 percent from 2009. The study also cited that people who are making the most of their cell phone features seem to be African-American and English-speaking Hispanic-Americans. A great number of this growth is among 18-29 year olds with income of less than $30,000.
I am very much in favor of providing any service that increases my library's usefulness to its public. In 2008 I attended Pugh's session on WVU's Ask-a-Librarian service, and upon my return home, I set up my AskMrsMartin AIM account. This account was not used until I created my own wiki with the AIM widget embedded. Since that time, the AIM account has been useful to teachers, students and parents, who all use the service to contact me. I love that I can be accessible to more people than ever. It is only natural that I should consider the some of the directions that Pugh indicated a mobile presence might take.
The easiest mobile strategy to embrace would be that of an SMS service. WVU Libraries have embedded cell phone numbers in its MARC records, allowing students easy access to librarian interpretation. Pugh told the audience that Yale purchased an iPhone to be passed among reference staff members. While, this approach was deemed impractical for WVU libraries, it could work nicely for Brookhaven. The main obstacle, of course, is funding. Perhaps a pre-paid service could fill this need. Perhaps a cell phone provider would be interested in piloting the service. With the current ban, if unofficial, on cell phones in schools, this may not be the best route to take, simply because students would have limited access to the service.
I know that I use my laptop less and less. I only keep a desktop at work for the convenience of a substitute. More and more I am using my cell phone as a main computing device. I makes sense to make our resources available in a popular format.