Category Archives: Project news

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-GROUP discussion list

As mentioned in an earlier post, we’ve been working on getting an email list set up to facilitate discussion around mobile technologies in libraries. The list is now live – please feel free to subscribe and start using the list for sharing resources, asking questions, and generating discussions on topics of relevance to the m-libraries area.


End of project report

1. Major Outputs

The major outputs of the project have been:

The project has also supported development of existing resources including the HE Lib Tech wiki Mobile Computing page and the Library Success wiki M-libraries page.

2. Background

The remit of the mobile library community support project was slightly different to the other projects within the programme. The aim was to support the community both within and outside the programme, in two main ways:

  1. Evidence gathering
  2. Community building

The objectives of the project were:

  • to build a body of evidence and practice around the notion of libraries and the provision of services and content to mobile devices
  • to seed and develop a sustainable community of practice around the development of m-libraries
  • to provide resources and evidence in usable formats, for example web-based resources, that will enable libraries to make informed choices and effectively develop their m-library provision

3. The challenge

The main challenge the project aimed to address was to begin to bring together different sources of information about mobile library initiatives and projects, and create a sustainable method for sharing new information within the community.

4. Lessons Learnt

Community building

Although we were aware of this at the outset, the project reinforced the fact that community building can be a challenging and time intensive process. Consistently throughout the project there was evidence of a reported demand for a community to share good practice and surface case studies as well as provide a focus for discussion. Although the project was able to seed discussion through blog posts and references to resources the challenge is for the community to take on a life of its own. While we had good feedback about the community there were a significant number of members who did not actively respond to posts or contribute to the discussion. This does not mean that they were not involved in the community but demonstrates there are many ways in which a community can be engaged and the benefits that an individual member might derive from involvement varies (for example, #mlibs tweets about resources frequently get favourited, presumably for people to check out at a later date). Sustainable communities are likely to be the ones that evolve organically over time.  It is questionable to what extent a project over a relatively short time period can result in a self sustaining community. While the project has developed a community it is likely that some further shaping and pump priming activity would be valuable over the short to medium term to ensure that it develops further.

Community website

A community website was in this case not the right option. Fortunately, we kept the approach flexible and did not dedicate a lot of project time to this as we wanted to see how the community responded before investing time. After gathering feedback it was decided a simpler approach of using a mailing list and a blog would better suit the needs of the community at present. The main lesson here was to remain flexible and open to adapting to suit the needs of the community (which makes it more difficult to plan but should hopefully ensure the delivered output is of greater use).

Case study collection

We had imagined that people would prefer for us to write up case studies following discussions with those who had been involved in projects. This was not the case in practice; people were offered this option but chose instead to write it themselves. Although initially this released some project time, it actually meant quite a lot of time spent co-ordinating and chasing case studies and difficulty in planning timing and quantity of case studies. There are still some outstanding case studies which we would like to share but are waiting for information about. In future it may be better to arrange visits or interviews and take a lead role on producing case studies rather than relying on staff external to the project who have competing priorities.

5. Conclusions

The objectives of the project have largely been met, though whether the community is sustainable remains to be seen. The community of practice has been supported by the information sharing event, the blog, the community site, and the mailing list as well as conversations on existing communication tools such as Twitter. Feedback from the m-libraries community (and research from LIS RiLIES project) suggests that events are a key dissemination tool for practitioners and we hope that the event organised by the project as well as presentations given at other events has helped support wider dissemination of our project findings and resources. Future events on m-libraries or mobile technologies session in wider LIS events will be one route to continue sharing of best practice.

The case studies and pathways to best practice guides have been key in providing resources and evidence to enable libraries to make informed choices. These project documents in addition to the resources collected on social bookmarking sites and those shared via the blog have been a core aspect of building a body of evidence and practice around provision of services and content to mobile devices.

As the project only has a short timescale, it has been difficult to ensure sustainability of the work of the project. It is hoped that the resources will continue to be useful in the short to medium term, and that discussions which take place on the mailing list and at relevant events will support longer term sharing of best practice.

Pathways To Best Practice guides

We’ve recently launched a new feature on the blog – the Pathways to Best Practice guides. This series of documents brings together the resources we’ve been collecting during the project as well as examples of initiatives and the lessons learned which should help you if you are thinking of implementing something similar.

The Pathways To Best Practice are available now from the menubar, or you can access them all from the Pathways to Best Practice starting page. Below is a preview of the guides you’ll be able to find (click on the image to go to the starting page).

Pathways To Best Practice guides

Pathways To Best Practice guides (click on image to go to starting page)

Case studies page

Throughout the course of the projects we’ve been collecting a number of case studies; some of which we’ve shared via the blog, and some via the test community site. We’ve now created a page to bring all these together with a brief overview of each case study – this can be accessed from the menu bar or directly at: 

The case studies are:

The project will soon be coming to a close, but if you have any work within the area of mobile technologies in libraries that you would like to share with others via a case study, please let me know (ideally we’d be looking to get everything published before the end of September).

Mobile technologies in libraries – end of project survey

The m-libraries support project is part of JISC’s Mobile Infrastructure for Libraries programme running from November 2011 until September 2012.

The project aims to build a collection of useful resources and case studies based on current developments using mobile technologies in libraries, and to foster a community for those working in the m-library area or interested in learning more.

At the beginning of the project we ran a survey to gather information, to discover what was needed to help libraries decide on a way forward, and to begin to understand what an m-libraries community could offer to help (full report available). It’s now time to revisit these areas to see how things have changed.

Please answer the following few questions – they should only take 5-10 minutes and all questions are optional.

This is an open survey – please pass the survey link on to anyone else you think might be interested via email or social media:


Upcoming events

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be attending some events to talk about the JISC-funded mobile library support project as well as share some of the evidence we’ve been collecting throughout the project.

Cake and conversation: the power of the library in your hand – University of Bath (12th July)

Later today I’ll be presenting a workshop at the University of Bath organised by the library for staff from across the university (library, elearning, academics and UKOLN). It’s a two hour practical workshop devised in collaboration with Gill Needham from the Open University. We’ve themed the workshop on perspectives of mobile delivery and have included horizon scanning, a case study from the Open University, an activity for the attendees, and suggestions for support and inspiration looking forward.

CILIP Mobile Technology Briefing (19th July)

Next week, I’ll be heading to CILIP HQ in London to present at the CILIP Mobile Technology Briefing chaired by Phil Bradley, CILIP President. The full day programme covers a wide range of different areas of mobile technologies, and I hope to set the scene at the beginning of the day by talking about some of the possibilities with mobile technologies and the ways people can find out more information.

Hope to see some of you at these events, but if you can’t make either I’ll be tweeting when I can using the #mlibs tag and encouraging others to do the same (the CILIP briefing also has its own hashtag of #mobiletech2012).

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.

Mlibs event – lightning talks

In addition to the more in-depth breakout sessions at the mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event, we also had a series of lightning talks. Each presenter had 5 minutes to give a very brief overview of a topic they wanted to talk about – anything went as long as it fitted into the broad topic of mobile technologies in libraries.

Below are the relevant links to resources for each of the sessions: