Pathways To Best Practice 6: Managing borrower accounts


Enabling users to manage their borrowing account via mobile devices.

State of maturity

Becoming mainstream (most libraries with a mobile app or mobile website have this functionality).

Explanation of area

Being able to manage a borrower account from afar has been a major development of online accounts, with renewals and reservations often being completed by telephone or online rather than in person. Mobile support is an extension to this development.

Many of the early mobile apps for libraries had account management as their main functionality, so that users could view the items they have on loan, renew them, and reserve other items. Though research tools are becoming the more predominant feature of library mobile apps and websites, account management is still often included as a core essential.

SMS is another mobile technology which can be used to help manage borrowing accounts, mainly used to provide alerts from the library.

Examples of work in area

Library Sector Country Overview of work Links/resources
Keele University Higher Education UK Implementing LibraryAnywhere (supplier app) to enable OPAC access via mobile devices LibraryAnywhere at Keele University: a case study
University of Sheffield Higher Education UK University mobile app including borrower account access – charges summary and which books are reserved, requested, booked and loaned. CampusM at University of Sheffield
Birkbeck, University of London Higher Education UK Implemented BookMyne (supplier app) to manage borrowing account and search catalogue Introducing BookMyne at Birkbeck
Birmingham City University Higher Education UK SMS notifications for overdue items, reservations and inter library loans Using SMS to reach students at Birmingham City University Library

Lessons learned from work so far

  • Although developing mobile apps can be time consuming,  user feedback indicates it can be very worthwhile
  • The time needed to develop a mobile app/mobile website can vary depending on existing library systems
  • It is worth considering different options – it may be that the functionality of a product from a different provider to your LMS better suits your users’ needs
  • If you have sufficient resources, developing your own system may be an option
  • Involve users in the requirements gathering stage to find out what functionality is really important
  • If a product doesn’t offer functionality you need, ask the provider if they would consider developing it (they may offer this for free or a reduced price if it is a feature they can use to market to other libraries)
  • Aim to offer support for a wide range of devices (iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.) – you may find a mobile website is a more flexible option

Key contacts

Ian Haydock (Keele University):
Tim Fletcher (Birkbeck, University of London):

Useful links

Before the first Connection: A marketing campaign for a Law Library’s Mobile Application – information about encouraging Boopsie to develop a new course reserve feature (third section of blog post).
AirPAC (from Innovative Interfaces) – includes screenshot and overview of features.
Bookmyne (from SirsiDynix) – includes guides and case studies.
Boopsie for Libraries – includes details of package options and case studies.
CampusM homepage – includes video demo of CampusM app and brief demo of library functionality.
LibraryAnywhere (from Bowker) – includes demo of mobile app.

Updated: 23 August 2012 by Jo Alcock as part of JISC m-library community support project.

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