Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mobilising your e-content for maximum impact

Breakout session 5 led by Ruth Jenkins (Loughborough University) and Alison McNab (De Montfort University).

The session kicked off with a brief overview of some of the mobile services currently offered. Most are based around issues and articles and browsing content and are publisher specific. This creates a number of issues.

  • The user has to know who publishes the journals they want to read (this also assumes they know what they want to read) and go and download the right App!
  • Users are publisher agnostic, they just want the stuff and don’t really care about who the publisher is
  • Apps are often designed for browsing - Issue to table of contents to article, whereas users want to search
  • No link with resource discovery systems such as Primo or Summon
  • No integration with reference management software
  • May not be available on all platforms - Device specific apps
  • Off campus access is often limited – not truly a mobile service

Positioning of the library

Mobile gives publisher opportunities to interaction directly with end users, previously libraries were the gatekeepers and directed users to the content.

Publishers overestimate how much end users know their brand, certainly undergraduates and early years researchers don't know the publishers or in some cases the titles they should be focusing on. Libraries try and present everything they have access to, not publisher by publisher.

What are challenges mobilising your e-content?

At this point the post-it notes came out and the audience was asked to think about the challenges they face in mobilising e-content, both from the library and the publisher perspective.

Common issues for libraries:

  • No single place listing which publishers have mobile offering
  • How to make users aware of the mobile sites/apps available
  • How to integrate mobile optimised links in the library catalogue
  • Support for large number of interfaces - lack of standardisation. How do you test access problems on multiple devices? Budgets don't extend to purchasing all types of devices let alone ensure these are up to date
  • Connectivity issues. Not everyone has or can afford 3G and wireless can be unreliable
  • Sites try to replicate all of desktop functionality, but it this what the users want?
  • Multiple authentication processes, hard to explain to users
  • Off campus authentication - in some institutions e.g. the Open University there is no campus or the student never comes onto campus
  • No way to search across apps
  • High student expectations
  • Licensing restrictions
Common issues for libraries:

  • Cost of development
  • Pace of technology change
  • Whether to create device specific apps
  • Providing user friendly tools to allow libraries and users to get the most out of mobile
  • What features to include


  1. Today there has been a very interesting discussion on the lis-e-resources list about the use of electronic resource apps in libraries, definitely worth a look.

    Some examples of how institutions are flagging the availability of apps in libraries are:

    1. Ros - thank you for the tip-off about the lis-e-resources discussion. I have been on leave so haven't yet investigated my email folder from listservs.