OCLC Researcher Bruce Washburn Considers "Library Mobile Applications: What Counts as Success?" in SLA's Jan/Feb Information Outlook

Washburn takes a brief look at where things stand with mobile library apps, what success looks like and how to measure it, and where we may be in the overall lifecycle of the technology.

From the article...

We have been hearing and reading similar statements about the approaching dominance of mobile for a while now. But there is little evidence yet from library mobile applications of a dramatic sea change in how our users are finding us and using our services. Is that due to over-hyped expectations about this transition, or does it have something more to do with the mobile library applications we are building, or the metrics we apply to counting how they are used? Or is it a wave that continues to build but isn't quite here yet?...

There are everyday use-case scenarios that could be handled now by a mobile application. So, if your library doesn't have a mobile presence yet, there is already sufficient reason to consider one, and there are many viable and affordable options to choose from. But as expectations and capabilities evolve, it will be important to take a careful and objective look at how your selected approach is doing, and to reconsider and try other approaches if necessary.

Bruce Washburn is a software engineer in the San Mateo, California, office of OCLC Research. He has worked in and for libraries for over 30 years and currently works on a range of research projects, including data analysis, Web service development, and discovery system prototyping. He has a special interest in mobile technologies and recently helped develop an experimental mobile Web application for worldcat.org, the open-Web destination for access to the world's largest catalog of library materials.

More Information

Washburn, Bruce. 2011. "Library Mobile Applications: What Counts as Success?" Information Outlook 15,1 (January/February). Pre-print available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2011/washburn-io.pdf (.pdf: 130.5K/7 pp.).

Bruce Washburn

For more information:

Bruce Washburn
Consulting Software Engineer
OCLC Research

Robert C. Bolander
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research