Category Archives: Community building

Project article – Supporting the experimental and innovative m-library community

CILIP Multimedia Information and Technology Group (MMIT) have recently released a special edition of their journal on mobile technologies. The journal is available to MMIT members, and an open access version of our article is available by clicking the image below.

MmIT Nov 2012 cover

Click the image to download the PDF of our article

M-libraries community – future plans

The JISC m-library support project has been listening to the community to understand the needs and how we can help support them in a sustainable way after the project ends. It’s clear from the number of subscribers to both the project blog and to the community website that there is a lot of interest in mobile technologies in libraries. However, traffic to the community site and discussions from the community has been relatively low. We are therefore proposing moving from the community website to an email discussion list which will facilitate discussion and sharing of information via email (which was a common request from the m-libraries information sharing event).

We feel that a web presence is advantageous and appreciate that a mailing list isn’t an ideal solution for discovering information. We therefore propose to continue with a blog (though it may move location). The blog will share news, resources and information of relevance to the area of mobile technologies in libraries, as well as being a way to share case studies and examples of good practice.

A full document of our findings and recommendations is available and we welcome any feedback on the proposed plan.

Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event

Many thanks to those of you who attended the mobile technologies in libraries event in Birmingham earlier this week.

Over 50 attendees joined us for a keynote from James Clay, eight lightning talks from a variety of different libraries, and two workshop sessions (from a choice of eight). Myself and the organising team would like to thank everyone who got involved in delivering a talk or facilitating a breakout session.

Lots of materials are being added to the Lanyrd page from the event, and we’ll continue to add more resources from the day including presentations, blog posts and other useful links. We’ll also be blogging about the breakout sessions with a brief overview of the session and any relevant resources.

We’re conducting a feedback survey and so far the feedback is mainly positive, with lots of examples of ideas being taken back to workplaces to be taken forward in other libraries which is fantastic. There have also been some useful suggestions for ways the event could have been improved and other areas people would like to attend events on. There are a number of future events on mobile technologies that we know are being planned, so we’ll highlight relevant events on the blog that you may be interested in – subscribe via the links in the sidebar from the blog homepage to receive blog updates.

Please also keep an eye on the m-libraries community website and join in the discussions on there – we got some useful feedback on the day about this and we hope to be able to develop it further to support the community’s needs. What sort of information do you need in order to support mobile technology developments in your library? How would you like to receive it? Is there anything you’d like to contribute? There’s a feedback mechanism on the site so please do let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions for improvement.

Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event

The information sharing event organised by the project was fully booked in less than 24 hours and we’ll be welcoming 60 attendees to Birmingham on Tuesday 8th May – many apologies for those of you on the waitlist who didn’t manage to get a place.

In addition to our keynote speaker, James Clay, we have 17 other speakers and facilitators who will be providing us with lightning talks and breakout discussion sessions throughout the day. The full programme is as follows (attendees will receive printed copies on the day):

Tech toolbox

Thanks to the Open University who have kindly offered to provide the use of mobile devices, we’ll have a tech toolbox area with different gadgets to take a look at. This will be available during the breakout sessions as well as during breaks so that you can get hands on experience with different mobile devices and technologies (including apps) and consider how they could be utilised or supported in your library.

Resources from the day

Some of the resources are already available to view on the event Lanyrd page, and we encourage attendees to continue to add coverage to the page including photos, blog posts, presentations and notes.

Following from afar

If you’re unable to attend but would like to follow the event, we’ll be encouraging attendees to tweet using the #mlibs hashtag so please do set up a saved search to follow relevant tweets. We’ve also set up a Twitter list of attendees which you may wish to subscribe to. If you want to send in a question to the event during the day, please use the #mlibs hashtag and ideally include @joeyanne, @ostephens or @evidencebase in the tweet so one of the organisers can pick it up.

Arriving the day before?

If you’re arriving on Monday (or live in the local area) and would like to meet up the previous evening for food and/or drinks, we’ll be in All Bar One on Newhall Street from around 6.30pm. If you’re planning to join us, please email me so we have an idea of numbers to let the venue know.

Looking forward to seeing some of you next week! 🙂

Invitation to join m-libraries online community

As part of the JISC m-library community support project and based on the feedback provided from our survey at the beginning of the project, we have created an online community for anyone interested in mobile technologies in libraries. This is an experimental development and we would like to invite you to join the community and try it out, and leave us feedback on what you think – whether or not you think it is useful, how it could be improved, or alternative ideas.

The community website is available at:

Community website screenshot

Community website screenshot (click image to go to community)

You can view information in the community without logging in, though to contribute you’ll need to set up an account which only takes a couple of minutes. Once you have logged in you can join any groups that interest you and choose to receive updates if you wish, either by RSS or by email.

Please feel free to jump straight in – comment on existing content or create your own discussion topics in the forums. Maybe you’d like to share innovative ideas you have been trying at your library, or you have a specific problem or issue that you’d like to discuss with others, or perhaps you’d just like advice on where to start with implementing mobile technologies in your library.

We would really welcome your feedback on the community site and what you would like for the future. There is a feedback option on the left hand side of the site – please do use it to leave ideas, problems, questions or praise. There is also a feedback discussion topic in the General group which you may wish to use.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you to the site!

Booking now open for Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event

The booking is now open for this free information sharing event on Tuesday 8th May 2012 in central Birmingham organised by the JISC m-library community support project for all library practitioners interested in how mobile technologies can be utilised by libraries.

Further details available below and at the event registration page:

Purpose of event
To encourage skills transfer and knowledge exchange across library and technology practitioners interested in developing m-library initiatives.

Target audience
Library practitioners (e.g. librarians, developers, managers, IT staff, e-learning staff) currently working with mobile devices/technologies or interested in doing so in future.

This information sharing event organised by the JISC m-libraries community support project will include speakers (including keynote speaker James Clay), workshops, discussions, networking opportunities and a chance for hands-on experience of mobile devices and technologies.

The event will be relatively informal, with a selection of morning and afternoon workshops to be decided by attendees. Please be prepared to talk to other attendees about your activities or plans for m-libraries – you’ll even be given the opportunity to present a lightning talk or facilitate a session if you like.

Learning outcomes
By attending this event you will:

  • learn more about the different ways libraries can utilise mobile technologies
  • have the opportunity to examine for yourself some of the different mobile devices and technologies your library may want to use
  • be able to contribute to the event by sharing your own library’s initiatives and plans for m-library development
  • take away ideas of how to progress m-library development in your library whatever your budget
  • network, build connections with and learn from others interested in utilising mobile technologies in libraries

Tuesday 8th May 2012

Maple House (central Birmingham)

Getting to Maple House
The Maple House venue is located in the Birmingham City Centre location of Corporation Street overlooking Old Square. Just minutes from New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street stations it is also conveniently located for a number of major bus routes. Parking is also available at a number of NCP car parks locally. For more information see Maple House directions guide.

Places are limited, please book your place on the event registration website:

Survey analysis – What would you like from an m-libraries community?

Respondents were asked what they would like to see provided by an m-libraries community.  A few respondents were supportive of the need for a community resource, but did not provide any comments as to how it could be configured. Many respondents however provided suggestions. These suggestions are summarised below (please note that there is some overlap between categories):

A place to find and share experience and best practice

Perhaps unsurprisingly most of those who provided comments wanted to see a space where experience and good practice could be shared and which provided a central source of information of relevance to those involved in m-library developments. Some respondents provided more detail about features that they would like to see in such a space.  These included:

  • A place to share and discuss known issues and problems and receive answers from experts and peers and a safe place to ask questions
  • FAQs to avoid duplication of effort
  • A best practice archive, including problem solving and how to guides (possibly by resource or publisher), standards of delivery of services to mobile devices, guidance on ongoing management and evaluation of m-library initiatives
  • Success (and failure) stories and case studies
  • A place to find out what other libraries are doing
  • Tutorials and training tools
  • Evidence based research
  • Wiki functionality to post examples
  • A product review/ app evaluation system to which providers themselves might contribute

Technical advice and support

Some respondents specifically referred to a desire for technical advice and support. One commented that some libraries may lack the technical skills to effectively implement mobile technologies:

I think technical advice and assistance is one of the key problem areas as many libraries do not invest in web developers or technical staff and that’s a big barrier to mobile provision

Open source support

A few respondents referred to a place to share open source developments and code specific to the mobile web, for example:

Sample code, particularly redirectors, platform specific css examples, code that recognizes and adapts to os& platform

Additional suggestions
There were some additional suggestions including:

bundling. bulk purchase licence agreements for e books onto e readers

Develop ‘play’ packs to use to extend library staff knowledge and experience of mobile gadgets and technologies.

opportunity for sharing development costs, especially cross-platform

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Some are unfortunately outside the scope of this project (free wifi for all is a lovely idea but sadly not something we could organise!), but we will be passing suggestions on to JISC as some may be within their broader scope or of interest for future innovation. The suggestions within scope are incredibly useful for the project – we will use these to help steer development of the community resource from the project.

Survey analysis – areas for further information

Respondents were asked whether there was further information that would support them in making decisions regarding the use of mobile technologies.  The following outlines the nature of the responses received.  It should be noted that the categories below are not mutually exclusive.

Experience of others

There was a need to be able to share experiences with others and to learn from, and support, peers as well as simply understand what others were doing and have a forum for discussion.

Keeping in touch and seeing what other libraries are doing in this area. Sharing resources/projects what is happening in this area is a high priority we all don’t need to re-invent the wheel.

A few respondents explicitly wished for this sharing not only be at a national level but to be international and cover a range of different sectors.

Case studies of implementation of mobile technologies

Such case studies would be useful to highlight success stories as well as lessons learned and may be presented in a more formal way than might be through a discussion.  The following provides an example to highlight this need:

It is good to continue to have information on case studies of how mobile technologies are being used for REAL benefit, not just additional marketing. Most of the literature around QR codes in libraries explains possible uses, rather than real examples and feedback about the success of those uses, so more data about the success would be good.  Case studies need to be clear what the costs and technical support needs were, as well as what the strategic need and benefit was.

Horizon scanning and trend analysis

This included a central information source concerning the current state of the art in mobile technologies in libraries as well as ‘trend spotting’- looking at current and future trends.

Reviews, current awareness and evaluation

There was some demand for current awareness news, reviews,  recommendations and evaluations of particular mobile technologies.  Responses included:

librarian reviews of technology involved and guidelines for best practices.

….important to be aware of all tech developments not just phones, and even though phones will be more widespread – the tablet market looks like it is going a lot wider at the moment too

‘How to’ guidance

There was demand for information and guidance around various aspects of setting up and implementing m-library initiatives, for example:

How to get the most out of smart phones, iPads and equivalent, setting up and sincing with PCs

Recommendations on how to write a mobile library website; how some sort of device- detection can be used to reformat the site, which perhaps could be used on existing sites.

Evidence based materials

Some respondents expressed a desire to be able to cite evidence from elsewhere to support their own developments. This could be in a number of areas for example, benefits, making a case, user behaviour and evaluation:

It would be useful to have more information on how students are using and may potentially use mobile technologies.

Research about mobile usability

A single information ‘hub’

Some desired a central point for information on all aspects of mobile library technology and implementation. This is summarised by this response:

A central place for known issues and problems would be welcomed, too – many libraries are duplicating effort by creating their own FAQs, where one centralised knowledge base would seem an obvious solution. Something similar for ideas and innovations, methods of publicity and examples of projects and best practice elsewhere, would be helpful, too.

Interestingly one respondent suggested a need for  information that could be understood by non technical people:

More detailed description for non-tech people to use

Training /coaching

Three respondents explicitly referred to needing training/coaching, either in person or via a webinar.


We hope to cover many of these areas during the project, and this has helped shape our plans for future blog posts and areas to cover when gathering case studies to share. We have actually already covered one request:

Just more info re web app vs native app, because it seems like most staff only know about native apps and have no idea about web apps

Hopefully our recent blog post, Native mobile app vs mobile web, fulfils this need.

Subscribe to the blog by RSS or by email if you’d like to receive updates on the topics mentioned here.

Survey analysis – barriers/challenges to implementation

Respondents were asked to indicate any barriers or challenges they had to implementing mobile initiatives. They were given the opportunity to provide open responses as well as choose from a preselected range of answers.  The bar chart below shows the distribution of responses:

Barriers/challenges to implementation

Barriers/challenges to implementation

Some of the open responses provided further information in areas that were covered in the closed response options whilst some responses covered new topics.  Three respondents used the opportunity to state that they foresaw no barrier to development.  Some of the themes emerging from the open responses included:

Not a priority

Of the 46 respondents who indicated that m-library development was not a priority some provided further detail to support this.  This included a number of different situations:

Not a *library* priority. A very high amount of work required on other aspects such as refurbishments and stock  moves means little time for development. If the students aren’t complaining that we don’t have mobile apps/mobile-friendly sites, it’s hard to prioritise above other projects and ‘firefighting’, especially when the development will be time- consuming as it is slightly specialist and new.

The Library itself has mobile accessibility as a major priority, but it doesn’t seem to be ranked as importantly by the University.

There is no expert or interested person who has the time to make this a priority. It is currently seen as an add-on to existing core activities, a nice-to-have.  This may change over time as smart phones become more ubiquitous.


Twenty five respondents provided details of barriers explicitly concerned with cost including costs to the library and to users:

Not enough money to get needed devices (iPods, iPads) for teaching

Cost – not all users can afford mobile technologies (e.g. iPads/smart phones), so we need to develop services which are still accessible to all.

Financial restraints. I believe we know what we need, but require significant resources to either build something in house, or hire someone to build something for us. The adoption of mobile services will probably happen gradually for us, with a mobile catalogue first, and a mobile website at least a year or two away.


Fifteen respondents referred to barriers concerned with time constraints e.g:

Lack of staff time to devote to learning and creating mobile apps

Library Systems is heavily under-resourced and are unable to allocate the time required to develop a mobile interface.


82 respondents had indicated that lack of skills were a barrier to m-library development. This was primarily due to a lack of technical skills in the library, though lack of experience was also mentioned.


A few respondents provided responses which could be considered to see uncertainty as a barrier to development.  It would appear that some of this uncertainty could be addressed by the provision of more information about m-library developments.  Examples of responses included:

The biggest challenge is that there are lots of strategies for creating mobile-friendly resources, but no clear winner. We currently do not use a CMS (though we are looking into it). In the meantime, do we continue to maintain two sites, or revise our current design so that it is mobile-first? What javascript library should we use–is jQuery Mobile worth the pain of learning, or should we look to HTML 5 & CSS 3? etc.

It’s not preventing us, but the variety of devices makes it more difficult to use the mobile technologies; also, the lack of standardization between publishers and content providers of e-resources makes it a challenge to provide access to these materials

Infrastructure /policy

Seventeen respondents referred to barriers which concerned infrastructure or policy issues and in a mixture of internal and external contexts:

We can have a go at some things, but here our web site is not immediately under our control so we can’t create a mobile version, and this doesn’t seem to be a prority although it is one for us. We have better control of the catlagues and use the accessible version to create a reasonable mobile version.

Not all our systems are mobile compatible

Additional comments

Some respondents provided additional comments which do not fit into the above categories and were only reflected in a few cases.  These included:

issues with service provider licenses and permissions.

Misconceptions of ‘mobile technology’, and technical ‘fear’ of the unknown.


It’s clear that at present there are a number of barriers and challenges facing libraries which are prohibiting or delaying implementation of m-library initiatives. Some of these are specific to individual institutions, whilst some are common across a number of libraries. This information is useful for the project and we certainly hope that we can help to reduce some of those barriers, particularly those concerning information about mobile initiatives, and helping provide evidence to equip libraries to tackle other barriers.

Fact finding survey – overview

Many thanks to those of you who completed the fact finding survey we recently published – we had an incredible response and we’re now looking through all the data. We’ll be publishing a number of blog posts over the next couple of weeks to share the findings, and will be using some of the examples you shared to help us with our project.

We had 182 responses to the survey, with the following sector breakdown:

Respondents by sector

Those who chose ‘Other’ were predominantly from health or hospital libraries, whilst we had one responder each from state library, research library, IT Services, and a joint academic and health library. We had no responses from school libraries.

The majority of respondents were from the UK (66%), with other responses from the USA (22%), Australia (6%), Canada (4%), Europe, Africa, Ireland, South America and Asia.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the methods used to disseminate the survey and the self-selecting nature of participants, many of the respondents libraries either already have m-library initiatives (63%) or are planning them in future (90%).

The most common barriers/challenges were lack of technical support, not knowing enough about how to utilise mobile technologies, and it not being a priority for the library or wider organisation.

Participants would like more information and case studies sharing experiences from libraries who have already implemented m-library initiatives, reviews and how to guidance, and a central hub for m-library information.

Suggestions for an m-library community included a place to find and share experience and best practice, technical advice and support (including open source software support), and general help and guidance.

More detailed analysis for specific sections of the survey will follow in a series of blog posts over the next couple of weeks.

If you have any examples of good practice you think we should investigate as part of the project (either your own projects or ones you know about), please submit an example – we’re building quite a list now and it’s great to find out about so many interesting projects. We’ll be looking through all the examples and sharing any useful information or case studies later in the project as well as blogging and tweeting throughout – follow the #mlibs saved search to receive these.