A+ A A-

mLibraries 2009 - Day 1

I attended Mlibraries-2009 at UBC on June 23rd & 24th. It was an invigorating conference. Full of exciting ideas about what is being done, and what we could be doing, with mobile information technology. I heard speakers from at least four different continents and heard about all types of libraries, information services, and communities. 

I took notes (as I am want to do) and tweeted during the conference. You could see my tweets at twitter.com/phall715 if you want but the same comments are, for the most part, in these notes with more context. Well, *mostly* more context. Some of these notes are a bit sparse but it should give you a feel for the conference. Mobile communication is a bit of a tsunami and sometimes I felt we were just all hanging on and trying to keep up. 

I've split this report into two parts: these are my notes from Day 1 (Tuesday). Soon I'll be posting notes from Day 2. I've linked to session presentations and abstracts when I know where to find them.


Lorcan Dempsey Vice-President and OCLC Research and Chief Strategist -  Concentration, Connection, Diffusion: Mobilizing Library Services

Dempsey's keynote was excellent, fast-paced and I can't seem to find a powerpoint to link to. So here is the gist based on my snippets.

Some recent research shows that 20% of all University of Washington mobile use (incl laptops) is with the iPhone/iPod touch.
To get these mobile students to use your services, you need to fit into their workflows. They won't fit into yours. They begin to have expectations based on their technology use.  Mobile communication is more about communication than about mobile. - See Manuel Castells Mobile Communication and Society. - mobile communication has been adopted faster than any other technology. It provides safe autonomy. And has changed patterns of sociability (we can remain in contact w old friends etc ), collective and individual identity, games and entertainment.

Two views of the effects of networks:

Networks1: clouds and crowds; concentration and Mesh[???].

  • Mesh: different grades of experience from different devices.
  • Cloud: natural accompaniment of mesh. Available across multiple devices.
  • Institutional website and browser as primary delivery mechanism is increasingly partial. [In other words: institutions have to get over the idea of the website as single stream of digital information transfer.] 


Networks 2: change how we do things. Micro coordination is one of the results. Starbucks was important ad hoc space in this context [in the U.S.] because it offered wifi hotspot.

  • Timeshifting.
  • Fragmentation: behaviours - residents and visitors of network have different experiences. Different grades of experience. Preferred communication channels.
  • Libraries: in the physical world:  space.  Expertise collections.  Systemsandservices.     In a network world: these integrated features are pulled apart.
Transformation of space: from an infrastructure perspective to a customer relations perspective. Make the library a "signed" network presence. Libraries must make themselves visible by delivering services onto networked environments and "signing" it with the names of those who deliver the services. People are entry points into networked information. Users of networked-information look for people who are gateways to a network environment. [So we (as in "library people") have to be recommended by those recommenders.] Library people are invisible on their web. Library webspace is anonymous. We don't 'sign' our networked services. We don't recommend things except collectively. Library of Congress twitter-stream has a nice style and is a good start.

The question for library services - negotiate a complicated balance between library, network, and consumers.
Dempsey's Twitter : lorcand
Dempsey's blog: Orweblog.OCLC.org



Ken Banks  - Where Books are Few: The Role of Mobile Phones in the Developing World .

Ken gave an inspiring look at the state of mobile phone use in Africa. He showed that phone companies are working towards the use of a single sim card through big chunks of central Africa. You can't even do that in Europe. In many African countries, a whole economy of small entrpeneurs make an income off of the provision and charging and fixing of Mobile phones. In fact, many mobile innovations start in the developing world. The impact as revolutionary as roads, rail and ports.
Banks and his organization (Kiwanja.net) have learned a few things about using mobiles and SMS as a basis of an information network. Information is delivered in snippets and it needs to be actionable.
He's developed software called Frontline SMS. It runs on a laptop with a mobile-phone tethered to it. It's been used to support activism and any group that wants to reach large groups of SMS users. Handles 2-way communication between individuals in an SMS network. It's not necessarily used in libraries right now but it could. More importantly, it shows how this simple tool  can be the basis of far-reaching information transfer. 

Ken Banks Abstract & Presentation

Carie Page -  Program Administrator -  EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative..   A presentation about today's students and education: 

  • Students are very highly connected but not using physical lib collection or physical services at all. 
  • Kids are getting cell phones at a very young age but it's a clash with school rules and practices.
  • Email is for old people or as document storage.  

Students want constant access - They want to use google docs and so on. They want to work In The cloud . Universities are starting to enable this for students. See zotero, for example.

Some strategies and techniques to meet their mobile needs:

  • Create a flow of info through channels and text messaging.
  • Have to give them mobile access to 'hidden web'.
  • Embed qr codes around the library to give students instant access to richer info.
  • Facebook is becoming place of convergence - students don't want to go to some other arbitrary network (like Ning) that's been set up by faculty or use arbitrary space in the courseware.

Paul Nelson NHS Choices - UK public health on the Web.

Public health is about moving the bell curves.
Generally, public health initiatives are broadcast to a large population in order to target the few people who need them. Most of the population (who don't need that particular initiative) are inconvenienced byit. The web gives ability to support specific health needs w/o inconveniencing many people.
The vast majority of access to NHS Choices content is through searching, not through the front page. But the current disadvantages are that  they are still very web1.0 and not every one is on the web. However, NHS Choics  has v strong brand.
Why go mobile: huge uptake throughout society.
Mobile is a medium but not itself an intervention. They have to take assets NHS Choices already has and pilot new services to reach target groups. They tried two initiatives:

  • One initiative was targeting teenage pregnancy in a certain region.
  • THe second project is get active for obese youth in a certain region. In this case, individuals were canvassed and signed up. Then they were sent motivational text messages. Not clear how succesful this was. Follow-up statistics didn't show an improvement. Health informantion is difficult to convey by sending only positive messages. Subjects are hard to motivate is they only get negative messages

Joan Lippincot  Coalition of networked Information - Why m-libraries? Making the Case for Innovation

The vast majority of academic institutions are not prepared to serve mobile users. THey often prepare mobile initiatives but are unable/unwilling to implement them. 

Here are three ways to make the case for innovating to :

  • Responding to user community work style: mobile increasingly used for information devices, not just communication. In US cell service still too expensive but expects price to continue to come down soon.
  • Extending access to content and service: provide stuff for kindle, Sony ereader,  etc. Arxiv for iPhone among other formats. Also some libs loaning the devices themselves.  Promotion!! Have to get people to use them.
  • Playing a role in institutional policy and technology infrastructure development: get a seat at the table to make sure your intitution's policy for intrastructure and implementation is usable.

Joan's powerpoint is quite thorough. Have a look (linked above).


Session S4: New Mobile Services

Eugene Barsky,  Kevin Lindstrom - UBC Library: Portable science: podcasting as an outreach tool for a large academic science and engineering library.
Why podcast in a univeristy (and library)? Hundreds of talks given in the university every year but they are gone as soon as they are finished. Science library decided to try to capture these and make them available to anyone who wants them. They've started with the Physics and Astronomy Dept. However, it's important to choose appropriate content. Not all talks are interesting. They concentrate on the ones that may have lasting value.
Once recorded, podcasts are  put in the university repository and on iTunes u.

Graham McCarthy & Sally Wilson, Ryerson University Library, Canada- The Library’s Place in a Mobile Space.

This project began with a survey of student's cell phone usage and what communications they want from library:   46% wanted email. 13% wanted the library to connect through Facebook.

From library they want to be able to book study room, check their class schedule, access catalogue, access borrower record, search DBS and read ...
Already in library patrons can text cat record to themselves. Can book study rooms. Has innovative's airpac package (mobile friendly opac)  and laptop booking. Future projects: campus assistant mobile webapp. It's built and will be available soon. Future will include location-aware pushing and API so that students can write extensions.

Karen A. Coombs, University of Houston  Piloting Mobile Services

The library bought iPod Touch's -  8 touches: 5 for faculty liaison librarians and 3 for use among other library staff. Liaison libraries had felt that not having mobile accessibility hampered their liaison work with faculty when they weren't in their own offices.

There were various results and Karen played video interviews of some of the librarians. Some librarians liked having mobile access; some liked being able to see the library services from outside the library proxy. But some already have plenty of devices so they didn't need or wanted the itouches.
Results of this pilot : library has decided to make mobile devices available for all librarians: itouches or netbooks. However, pilot group had also concluded that iPhones would be better because the ubiquitous connectionwas felt to be better thanhotspot-connection. Unfortunately, library administration jumped the gun before all the pilot study conclusions were available. 


Day 2 session notes and links to be posted soon!


Add comment

Security code

Comments on any article in philiphall.ca are now enabled. If you've seen something here you think is great, lousy, plain wrong, or whatever, click on the "Add your comment" link and let me have it.


All about knowledge and information and digital tools. Lots of new ideas. Some are even good ones.
GeopolSimon The War On Solar Is Real, Unlike the "War on Coal" desmogblog.com/2015/02/05/war…

Retweeted Friday, 06 February 2015 via Twitter for Android • 1 retweet

embeedub I vaccinated my daughter & 15 years later she's moody & doesn't want to clean her room. COINCIDENCE?

Retweeted Friday, 06 February 2015 via Twitter for Android • 3275 retweets

phall715 @sios Ahhh... But not all books are equal. How about 2 long books? Or one reeeallly haaaard book? :-)

Monday, 02 February 2015 via Twitter for Android Tablets in reply to sios

phall715 Checking out the new audio gear for Inspiration Lab for 1st time. Good to see those jagged lines on the screen: it w… pic.twitter.com/H5T4EK7XyZ

Monday, 02 February 2015 via Buffer

andrewkpace What does Advocacy success look like? QOTD: "When the ALA is as well known and influential as the NRA." #alacouncil #alamw15

Retweeted Sunday, 01 February 2015 via TweetDeck • 10 retweets

phall715 @BRintoul Well I'm hoping now that they're digitized, further conversions are easier. But that may be foolish optimism :-)

Thursday, 29 January 2015 via Twitter for Android Tablets in reply to BRintoul

Video: Are we Irrelevant, yet?

Are We Irrelevant Yet at VPL, December 2013.