Cycling for Libraries: Copenhagen to Berlin

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In a few days I fly off to Cycling for Libraries. An independent “unconference” in the shape of a bicycle tour starting from Copenhagen, Denmark to Berlin, Germany May 28. –June 6. 2011. There will be two days of wrap-up seminars in Berlin on the 6th & 7th of June

The purpose of the Cycling for libraries is to gather a group of 100 library professionals all around the world together to cycle a total of approximately 650 kilometers and to discuss the strategic issues of the library field in seminars along the route. The event starts at the Danish National Library courtyard, and it ends at the 100th Deutsche Bibliothekartag! (The German Library Conference).

Themes for the Conference (both during the ride and at the Seminars in Rostock and Berlin) are: Communicating to customers, Extending knowledge and skills, What the library can offer to the society, Out of "hushing and silence": Library as a public place, Library as an export product, Volunteering in the library, Mobile libraries, Library Lovers' Best Practices, How to Communicate with library users, Extending the Knowledge and Skills, What the libraries offer can to societies surrounding them, Open your data, When libraries are needed...
While I am attending as an individual professional without formal support from my library, I am receive amazing support and fundraising from library colleagues throughout out our system.
It will be lots of fun and I'll have lots of stories to tell. Stay tuned.  

mLibraries 2009 - Day 2

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  • Last Updated: Thursday, 16 January 2014 20:15
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I attended Mlibraries-2009 at UBC on June 23rd & 24th.

I took notes (as I am want to do) and tweeted during the conference. You could see my tweets at 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. 

Here are the notes from Day 2. Day 1 was posted earlier.


S10 Mobile Services For Distance Learners

Parveen Babbar & Seema Chandok, Indira Ghandi National Open University, India  m-Learning Libraries in DistanceEducation: A Proposed Model for IGNOU,

India is 2nd largest mobile market in the world. 320 million phone subscribers and growing by millions per month!
These librarians from Indira Gandhi Nat'l Open University are proposing a mobile web for distance learners.  The benefits are information anytime anywhere.
So far they are already providing educational content including text, image and video, access to e-resources, and course info as part of the national open mobile library.
For their proposed model, they surveyed learners - what do they want? They responded: they want status of their course results, current course material, previous year's exam questions.
In addition, the model will provide m-library data from the catalogue, authenticated resources and open resources, reference services,  moblogging and SMS notifications.

Dora Perez & Pep Torn, Open University of Catalonia, Spain - m-Library in an m-University: ChangingModels in the Open University of Catalonia,

Libraries on the move:
In 1995, on the move meant a vision of using a laptop at the beach.
Today it means something else. They surveyed academic libraries in Spain to find out: 18 provide mobile services of some sort. Most offer circulation info. Only 6 offer info from opac and one offers e-texts. A few plan to offer adapted web sites, among other things, to better serve their patrons.

 Unfortunately, there is only "incipient implementation" of services for mobile device users. But there is 94% mobile penetration in Spain. 94%! They're hoping more universities will follow Open Uni of Catalonia's lead, and, also hopefully, software vendors will provide mobile-aware gateways to make it easier for these libraries to facilitate implementation.   For more, read the paper linked from the title. 


 S14 (More) Mobile Services for Distance Learners

Tony Tin,  Athabasca University & Hassan Sheikh Open University (UK)  A Tale of Two Institutions: Strategic Approach to Support and Develop Mobile Library Services and Resources

60% of world population have access to mobile phones. 60%!

So, why serve mobile? Students already have devices, the want 24/7 accessibility, and mobile can accommodate different learning style.
mobile friendly web has auto-detect so content is reformatted on the fly for appropriate device.

These two open libraries are working on a whole bunch of things including coordinated search results formatted to mobile screen, SMS notification service for those who request them.
A key message: it's important to find out what users want. Don't just develop w/o knowing this. Take a look at gtheir Powerpoint linked from the title.

Dr. Buhle Mambo-Thata, University of South Africa.  The Library on the Phone: Assessing the Impact of Mobile Phone Library Access at the University of SouthAfrica Library

UNISA has open distance learning mandate. 260,000 students served by the universtiy. 79000 are under 25 years old.
They implemented Innovative Airpac. Their implementaton project included lots of consultation within library and then agressive marketing campaign to students: posters and even a cartoon!
They also conducted reserch to find out if it was improving efficiency and changing how they deliver services etc.

Mlibraries Final Keynote

Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning.  Demystifying the 'M' words
In 1987 commonwealth countries noticed that enrollment from Developing countries was falling. Distance learning (as an extension of correspondence learning) was pursued as an antidote.
Educational technology is revolutionary: wider access, higher quality and lowest cost are all aims of education providers but they are an iron triangle and people too often believe that quality education must be "exclusive". Educational tech cuts these bonds: you can have high quality and high access.
The commonwealth's goals for 2009-2012 are access to highschool education. 200mil new students in developing countries will need access to secondary schools by 2015. See the slides (liked from the title above) about "open schooling".
See also a lot more details in various slides from numerous presentations on the subject at



mLibraries 2009 - Day 1

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  • Last Updated: Thursday, 16 January 2014 20:15
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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 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:



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 ( 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!