New findings emphasize a growing need for mobile services

Zola Maddison /

Andromeda Yelton’s webinar, Bridging the Digital Divide with Mobile Services, highlights her recent findings in January’s Library Technology Report. Yelton uncovers the mobile services that are currently being provided, and sheds light on ways we can easily convert our current services to mobile services. She also points out that within the last year since conducting her research, much of her original data has changed—and this shift in the data further emphasizes the need for libraries to provide mobile services to our patrons.

During her initial research, Yelton found that there was a gap in who used mobile technologies, but that gap has closed. Now, everyone uses mobile technology.  In fact, 90% of American adults now have cell phones. Of those 90%, half use smart phones, and 2/3 of new mobile phone purchases are for smart phones. So what does this mean for libraries? Yelton explains that because broadband coverage is still often very patchy, while mobile coverage is almost ubiquitous, smart phones are becoming a substitute for laptops—especially in remote, rural areas. As a result, the kinds of civic experiences people engage in online—registering to vote, applying for social security, finding immigration forms—assume people are on a laptop. “Libraries can do a lot to organize, curate and make things mobile friendly for their users,” says Yelton.

During the webinar, Yelton and attendees provided many examples of ways to easily turn existing services into mobile services:

  • WordPress blogs turn mobile friendly with WPTouch plug-in
  • can convert make your catalog mobile friendly
  • makes mobile-friendly webpages
  • Use audio books that can stream to mobile devices
  • Use text messaging for reference, holds and overdue notices, and sending call numbers
  • Partner with Best Buy or Barnes & Noble to get volunteers and devices for Technology Petting Zoo for staff or patrons.

For more ideas on implementing mobile services, see Andromeda’s slides, recommended reading, her webinar and other resources on the archive page.