This guest blog post is from Debbie Morris from Leeds Metropolitan University and discusses their research into user needs and their subsequent plans for supporting mobile technologies. Over to Debbie…
Increasingly, Library users at Leeds Metropolitan University are requesting all kinds of mobile access, from expecting that our e-books and digital readings can be viewed on a e-book reader (sounds obvious, opens a huge can of worms) to asking if their timetable is available to view on a smartphone (yes it is!).
What do users want via mobile?
Early in 2012 we conducted a short online survey about mobile access. Over 500 of our users responded. They told us that the top 5 services they would like to access via a mobile device were:
- Virtual Learning Environment
- University Portal
- Library Catalogue / Account
Key findings of the survey found:
- many students feel that an iPhone/Android app is necessary and that the university should already have this feature;
- more focus needs to be put on advertising the mobile services we already have and how to use/access them (the majority of respondents said accessing timetables and emails would be of great benefit to them – these are services we already have available);
- when creating any kind of mobile access, focus need to be placed on iPhone, Android and Blackberry;
- there is an overwhelming feeling against charging for any type of mobile application.
I’m sure we are not alone in needing to look at cost-effective ways of delivering mobile provision. With this in mind, we have started to work on some quick wins that will make improvements at low/no cost and will only take a short time to develop:
- produce some custom Library webpages suitable for mobile access/install an open source CMS for mobile access and use this as a portal to all other Library Mobile enabled services;
- install and configure a low-cost library system API to utilise free Library mobile apps;
- list journals/databases with mobile access on the new Library mobile site, begin to build each subject area a mobile page;
- increase the promotion of current services which already provide mobile access.
Long term plans
For the longer term, we are now connecting with colleagues across the University to ensure that our mobile plans complement the direction of the pan-University mobile strategy.
I’ll leave you with a word-cloud summary of responses from our users, when asked, ‘What could we do to improve access from mobile devices for you?’ (my favourite is –buymeaniphone!)