University library goes mobile with site launch

The University Library launched its beta mobile Web site Monday.

The site allows people to access the library’s catalog, find library locations and hours and search additional databases with mobile interfaces, as well as send text messages to librarians. It can be accessed from any computer or cell phone, including the iPhone and BlackBerry devices.

“This is one more channel of reaching out to library users and making everything more convenient for them, which we are advocates of,” said Linda Smith, associate dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

The mobile Web site includes access to “Text a Librarian,” a new library service. University Library users may text a librarian with questions using the mobile site or the library’s number though any mobile phone that supports text messaging. The service uses Google Voice and is available during the same hours as other “Ask a Librarian” services.

The library anticipates the new mobile Web site will be a popular service, since many students and faculty already use their mobile phones to access all kinds of information, said Joshua Bishoff, a visiting assistant professor and engineering librarian. He added that the site has received 1015 hits as of Tuesday.

The library is enthusiastic about receiving student feedback for their new mobile site, said Jenny Emanuel, digital resources and reference librarian and assistant professor of library administration. The mobile site has a feedback forum for users to comment and provide insights.

“There’s been a little feedback already, both on Twitter and on the feedback forum provided on the site,” Emanuel said. “They’re excited for more resources.”

If the mobile site receives a positive response, more mobile sources will be considered.

“We’d like to do more with location, where the program can tell where the closest library is,” Emanuel said.

Bishoff said the Web site reviews have been positive so far. He added that the library has already begun working on other services.

“We’re developing a number of new features such as integration with Google Maps (for locating libraries on campus), a ‘My Account’ feature and access to more electronic journal content,” Bishoff said.

Other ideas include mobile tutorials and programs that provide more contacts for library staff or help for students to find a particular librarian.

Smith thinks the new site helps give students ideas for innovation.

“We always encourage our students to innovate and take technology to the next level,” Smith said. “This innovation helps gives students an example and builds opportunities for us to develop leaders in the University.”