Pathways to Best Practice 4: Providing access to resources via mobile devices


Providing access to your resources/content via user’s own mobile devices

State of maturity

Becoming mainstream (most content providers enable access via mobile devices either through an app or mobile web).

Explanation of area

As we become more used to using our mobile to access the web and read, we expect resources to be available via our mobile devices, including library resources and content. This includes textual material as well as images, videos and other collections.

Examples of providing access to library resources/content via mobile devices include:

  • Mobile apps for specific resources/databases
  • Mobile web versions of resources from specific resources/databases
  • Discovery services delivered via mobile interface
  • Library collections adapted and delivered in mobile format

Examples of work in area

Library Sector Country Overview of work Links/resources
University of Newcastle Higher Education UK List of mobile-friendly databases and resources Mobile apps and resources guide
LSE Higher Education UK JISC PhoneBooth – accessing library-owned historical data via mobile devices Phonebooth prototype blog post
Open University Higher Education UK JISC MACON – resource discovery via mobile devices (using EBSCO Discovery API) Good practice toolkit
University of Birmingham Higher Education UK List of library resources accessible via mobile devices Going mobile with library resources
Library Success wiki N/A N/A Table detailing mobile resources from suppliers Publishers offering databases for mobile devices

Lessons learned from work so far

  • Establish the types of devices that are being used/owned by users so that you can make use of equipment they already have.
  • Look at how people are using the devices and what they might like to use them for. Do some research if you can – surveys, focus groups, interviews, or observation.
  • If developing apps, identify the types of platforms that they can be used on and the cost to your institution. For example, what is the consequence of developing a iOS app on those users that have Android phones?
  • Agile development enables further enhancements.
  • Utilise feedback to support development and roll out. For example focus groups can involve the users in the decision making process and usability testing can enhance interface design and functionality.
  • Suppliers are approaching mobile access to resources in different ways – test these out and provide support for your users (particularly for authentication).

Key contacts

Ed Fay (LSE) –
Keren Mills (Open University) –

Useful links

Which library content providers are utilising mobile technologies? Blog post from the JISC m-library community support project presenting an overview of what suppliers are currently offering.
Resource discovery on mobile devices – review of workshop at JISC-funded mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event.
Benefits of optimising content for mobile devices from JISC MACON best practice toolkit.
Content formats for mobile devices from JISC MACON best practice toolkit (includes details of file types accessible from each device).
Content delivery by app or website? from JISC MACON best practice toolkit.
Understanding user requirements from JISC MACON best practice toolkit.
Usability testing from JISC MACON best practice toolkit.
Cambridge Journals Online to Kindle – overview of feature on Cambridge Journals Online website to send journal articles to Kindles.
Delivering web to mobile – JISC Observatory TechWatch report.

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

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