Library services were the first local government services to gain widespread public use on the web so it's good to see library 'apps' emerging. Sometimes these have been developed by the libraries themselves (e.g. Edinburgh) and sometimes they have been developed by companies that sell library systems and technologies (eg OCLC and SirsiDynix).
Responsive web design
An alternative approach to an 'App' (ie something a user downloads from an App store eg Apple or Android) is 'responsive web design' which enables content to be reformatted and re-sized for better delivery on a tablet or smartphone.
Delivering Responsive Web Design via the Library OPAC - a literature review. Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Public library mobile apps in Scotland : views from the local authorities and the public. By Kerr, Alan and Pennington, Diane (2017)
Library Hi Tech. ISSN 0737-8831 (In Press) , http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/LHT-05-2017-0091
Purpose – The purpose of this research was to examine current public library apps in Scotland and assess Scottish public library users’ opinions of those apps.
Design/methodology/approach – Two qualitative and quantitative surveys were conducted. One survey was distributed to each Scottish Local Authority, the entities
responsible for public libraries in Scotland. The second survey was made available to the public. The results were analysed with nonparametric statistics and content analysis.
Findings – All 32 Authorities responded. Seventeen Authorities had an app, two had one in development, and 13 had none. Offering an alternative means of communication to
patrons was the main reason for providing an app, while cost and low priority were the main reasons provided against app provision. Authorities were satisfied with the core
services offered in their apps, but less so with others. No Authorities had consulted the public regarding app provision. The public (n=185), while satisfied with current library apps, criticised the complex procedures required to access external services. Patrons from Authorities without an app stated interest in apps.
Practical implications – It is vital for public libraries to implement at least coreservices that are optimised for mobile devices. They should consult with the public before and throughout the development process to ensure they are happy with the implementation. Originality/value – This is the first known study to explore public library app use in Scotland as well as one of the first in public library app use
Socitm: Councils must go mobile.By Andy Price. PublicTechnology.net [blog] 8 July 2013
“Local councils must start responding to a mobile 'revolution' as access approaches 30% says the latest briefing from Socitm. It added that the advent of mobile is as powerful as PCs or the arrival of the internet”.
'Plan NOW for mobile apps to access public library resources and services' By Charles R. McClure. ALA . 8th August 2012
“The 2011-2012 Public Library Funding and Technology Access Study (PLFTAS) contains a wealth of information and insights on public library funding and technology applications and uses. Of the many interesting findings, public library use of mobile technology offers a glimpse of “things to come.” Indeed, public libraries need to plan NOW for how to employ these applications in THEIR libraries.
Figure C-17 “Public Library Systems Use of Mobile Technology” from the 2011-2012 PLFTAS shows that overall:
• 14.2% of respondents indicated that the library’s website is optimized for mobile device access;
• 7.2% of respondents said that the library has developed smartphone apps for access to library services and content;
• 11.8% of respondents said that the library uses scanned codes for access to library services and content; and
• 72.7% responded that the library does not make use of mobile technologies.
In all responses, urban libraries had more use and deployment of mobile technology than rural libraries.”
The Impact of Mobile Technology Trends in Academic Libraries. 31st March 2013.
Impact of Mobile Environments/Technologies on LIS LIS 6010 Team Blog
While this is written from an academic library perspective it still has value to public libraries..
“The impact of mobile technologies in academic libraries ultimately lies with the trends that are currently set by the end users. There are multiple factors that these particular libraries must consider when implementing mobile websites and applications for mobile devices. It is vital that libraries are successful when choosing these particular mobile initiatives. The choice of each academic library determines the functionality and overall academic success of the library as an educational resource. Academic libraries must study the market to decide what is best for the library and what is best for the user.
Current market research asserts that mobile phone use has increased considerably in recent years. “In 2008 the US had 158 million landlines compared with 271 million mobile phone subscriptions. As the number of mobile phone subscriptions has grown over the past five years, landlines have decreased by approximately 24 million. These statistics reflect Americans’ reliance on their mobile phones with 42 percent of users saying they “cannot live without” them and 82 percent saying they never leave home without their phone” (Synovate , 2009, p.310).!
Library mobile apps vs web apps - Some analysis, By Aaron Tay. Musing about librarianship [blog]. 5th September 2010
”..mobile friendly sites or library web apps are not the only option. The other option is to create mobile apps. These have being a less popular option because it takes a lot of work to create a mobile app, and unlike web apps (which are basically webpages configured for mobile surfing), mobile apps require more programming and in some cases such as iPhone apps, require that you pay a fee to list on Apple's itune.
However Stop the App Madness , advocates libraries concentrate on their web app & forget about mobile apps. It points out that
1. You need to spend a lot more effort on creating mobile apps for each platform (iPhone, Android, Blackberry)
2. HTML5 will eventually allow web apps to be as functionally rich as any mobile app.
That said a study has shown that mobile apps, or at leastiPhone apps are more usable than mobile friendly web apps. Part of the reason could be that mobile apps are usually faster since they can be designed to just draw data from servers, while everything else occurs locally.“
“Now you can find a title, reserve, borrow or renew it, straight from your mobile.
Gloucestershire“The library app will enable existing and new customers to use their smart phones and tablets to search the library catalogue and reserve books, DVDs and e-books online, wherever they are.
“Access Manchester Libraries from your Android phone or tablet. Manage your account, search the catalogue, renew and reserve books”
'Edinburgh city council launches libraries app. Free library application locates the nearest library in Edinburgh.' Guardian Government Computing. Guardian Professional, Wednesday 9 March 2011
The library has two mobile apps, one to browse the catalogue available at your local library and one to browse and download Audio and Ebooks provided by Dorset Libraries.
a service provided by LibraryThing and available worldwide from Bowker. LibraryAnywhere is system neutral – information at http://www.bowker.co.uk/products/leaflets/LibraryThing%20Mobile.pdf
(www.worldcat.org/m/) more 'mobile web' than app
'For the media consumer, there's good news: Your local SirsiDynix library has what you're looking for and allows you to place holds from your iPhone! Giving you the functionality of your local library account, but on-the-go, BookMyne™ for iPhone enables you to locate books, audio, video and other materials from your local library'