Library Reference Applications
- Digital reference has been growing and most libraries contain some aspect of this, especially since many people never use the library at all. The use of mobile devices and smartphones have increased in the past few years. People are turning to their phones more and more to get answers to questions they may have through apps and sources like Google. The library has an opportunity to take advantage of this and connect users to their library through their smartphones and mobile devices with applications (apps) designed specifically for libraries.
- Description of Service:
- This combines many services in one, but the focus would be more on the reference side of the library. This library reference app would include the catalog, a library locator, a place to see what’s new at the library, access to the user’s account, as well as an ask us section (with options to call, chat, or email), and a connect with us section (with access to the library’s Facebook and twitter accounts). People would be able to use this app to connect with the reference librarians either synchronously (like live chat) or asynchronously (like email).
- Type of library:
- Public libraries (specifically in more of an urban setting)
- Targeted audience:
- Teenagers and Young Adults
- To get people, specifically young adults and teenagers, to think about reference in new ways and be able to use reference services more since many possess smart phones to meet the needs of people who rely on smart phones for information.
- Similar Service:
- In the San Jose Public Library system, “libraries in the Bay area are working hard to connect people with technology and tools, and working with software developers and companies to develop digital platforms and apps.” (Gross, 24). Another library that has a mobile smartphone application is the Cuyahoga County Public Library in Ohio. Their app includes a 24/7 online reference service and can “get live research assistance from a librarian, reading recommendations, and answers to questions.” (Keller, 14). They were the first library to do so and saw its success.
- Desired and Measurable Outcome:
- It is important for librarians to promote this service and let people know it is available and the benefits it has, especially when they cannot get to the library. The desired outcome is for people to ask the reference desk more questions than they have been asking from just in person reference questions. This can be measured by looking at statistics like how many people ask reference questions at the desk vs. how many people use the library application. They can also measure how successful the app is through surveys and interviews.
Gross, Anisse. “Bay Area Libraries Look Forward.” Publishers Weekly 262.24 (2015): 24-26. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.
Keller, James. “Showcasing The Value Of Libraries.” Public Libraries 50.3 (2011): 13-16. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.