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A literature review of m-library services developed so far by libraries around the world shows that little work has been done in terms of gathering user requirements to find out what sort of library services users would be likely to find useful when they’re on the move. My proposed project aims to scope and prototype some m-library services and ask users to try them and comment on how useful they are in order to inform future development.
These services could be of particular benefit to students as library users because mobile access to library services could give them greater flexibility to study anywhere at any time. One project undertaken by Student Services at the Open University has shown that students do like to receive alerts and reminders by text message.

Scope

This will be a three month project including

  • focus groups with Cambridge Librarians to scope out possible m-libraries services
  • prototyping of 3 services in the following areas

    • skills – mobile Safari
    • content – quick reference
    • mediated services – helpdesk access

  • a questionnaire about prototype and other services, as suggested by focus groups, to a fixed number of Cambridge University and Open University students
  • analysis of questionnaire results (quantitative and qualitative)

Deliverables

  1. Proposed service models for both campus-based and distance learning academic libraries.
  2. A website making the methodology and results from the project available to other UK Academic Libraries, and allowing them to input their own data and analysis if they choose to run the questionnaire with their own students.
  3. A paper to be presented at the M-Libraries conference in June 2009, including an analysis of environmental factors affecting mobile library services, such as cost and availability of institutional text messaging services or mobile broadband, and library user communication behaviours.

I have been developing a list of further ideas for m-library services which will be included in the survey of library users, but will not all be prototyped. Comments and suggestions for other services would be welcome.

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