Tag Archives: event

Mlibs event – Resource discovery on mobile devices

This is part of a series of blog posts based on the sessions held at the Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event. More resources from the day are available at the event Lanyrd page.

Keren Mills (The Open University) gave a presentation during the afternoon breakout sessions focused on resource discover on mobile devices. This was based largely on the work Keren has been involved in with the MACON project as part of the JISC Mobile Infrastructure for Libraries programme. The notes below have been contributed by Ben Showers who attended Keren’s session

Keren Mills

Keren Mills

Before Keren began her presentation she asked the librarians present what the top things they wanted from discovery tools. She then asked what their students wanted from discovery tools.

The list was fairly recognisable:

  • Automated authentication – easy access and minimise the need to type.
  • Relevance ranking
  • ‘find similar’ type services (Amazon style)
  • spell checking/auto correct/complete type functionality (although it was recognised this can be frustrating in an academic context with complex terms)

In contrast to the high degree of functionality and granularity that is expected by librarians (and academics) from discovery services, a lot of research highlights that students don’t use or require the same level of functionality (see for example this JISC user behaviour observational study: User behaviour in resource discovery). Furthermore, the functionality available on mobile devices is often constrained, so there’s inevitably a balance between usability and functionality when developing for mobile.

A number of the participants echoed Keren’s analysis, arguing that increasingly library users want a Google like experience. This includes assumptions that the library discovery services will learn more about them the more they use it, a certain level of personalisation – something which is still in its infancy for library discovery services.

Keren stressed the importance of consulting users (students and researchers). One of the big problems with the academic environment is the diversity of the use-cases. It’s important to be clear about who your core audience is (Keren stressed the importance of extracting value from things like analytics, surveys, interviews etc).

It was also clear that libraries should be adopting a ‘mobile first’ policy: start with mobile, and work from there. This approach helps you focus on exactly what you’re trying to deliver.  It’s also beneficial in terms of accessibility and usability, as developing services for mobile incorporates best practice for accessibility.

The clear message from the session was that as professionals we can have very different expectations from the average user and heaping on all the functionality used by expert searchers can overwhelm less experienced searchers who are mostly looking for convenience, especially when they’re using a handheld device. Keren was keen to leave us with a philosophy of reduction wherever possible: reduce the number of required clicks, downloads, and scrolling. If students do have to download (and this is likely as libraries usually don’t create the content they serve) minimise the volume of the downloads.

Less, it seems, is definitely more.

Keren’s presentation is available on Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/mirya/resource-discovery-on-mobile-devices-keren-mills) and you can read more about this topic on the MACON project blog.

Mlibs event – Augmented Reality for Special Collections

This is part of a series of blog posts based on the sessions held at the Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event. More resources from the day are available at the event Lanyrd page.

Matt Ramirez

Matt Ramirez

Matt Ramirez (Mimas) gave a presentation during the afternoon breakout sessions on the topic of Augmented Reality for Special Collections. The presentation was based on the work of the JISC-funded Special Collections using Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching (SCARLET) project. The main points from Matt’s session were recorded by flipchart:

  • SCARLET project used Junaio app to create their A.R.
  • Students wanted to be able to interact with A.R. models, rather than just being signposted elsewhere
  • Useful tool for enquiry based learning
  • SCARLET toolkit will be available to use
  • Sketchup good for pre-built 3D models
  • No W3C standards for A.R. browsers
A more detailed overview is below, thanks to Pete Dalton:

Matt presented details of the Special Collections using Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching (SCARLET) Project at the University of Manchester (Mimas) in collaboration with the John Ryland Library.   Through the use of Augmented reality through mobile devices students are able to have more immersive experiences when interacting with rare materials in special collections.  While viewing an object first-hand, AR markers and  spatial triggers provide access to supporting materials through mobile devices to enhance the learning experience.  Through the use of mobile technology the original object is in effect ‘surrounded’ by additional contextual material to enhance the learning experience.

It was reported that to date that the AR functionality had been generally well received by students.  The project had learned lessons about developing such content including not underestimating the time it takes to create the surrounding content and the need to get buy in from all stakeholders. In addition it was clear that AR should be presented as a unique additional experience and not an attempt to simply duplicate other experiences.

It was noted that this was a rapidly developing area and that the project had only begun to scratch the surface of what might be possible in the use of AR.  New possibilities were opening up all the time such as the ability for browsers to visually recognise 3D.

Matt highlighted the forthcoming Augmented Reality toolkit that the project will produce which can help others to harness AR to support teaching and research.

You can find out more about the project (including news about an extension project, SCARLET+) on the SCARLET project blog. You may also be interested in reading the case study the SCARLET team wrote for our community website, and if you have a smartphone you can sample the AR using the SCARLET demonstrator channel.

Mlibs event – Building mobile-friendly sites with responsive design

This is part of a series of blog posts based on the sessions held at the Mobile technologies in libraries: information sharing event. More resources from the day are available at the event Lanyrd page.

Matt Machell (Capita) gave a presentation during the morning breakout sessions focused on building mobile-friendly sites with responsive design. The notes below have been contributed by Ben Showers who attended Matt’s session.

Matt Machell

Matt Machell

Matt made it clear that the aim of this session was for us to question our assumptions about what mobile means.

The session began with some group activities exploring the uses we put our phones to, and which are the main tools we utilise on our phones. The top uses for phones were:

  • Maps and travel apps (trains, buses)
  • Communication and social media (Email, IM, twitter, facebook)
  • Camera
  • Music (spotify, radio)

Matt’s exercise made it clear that our phones need to be reconceived as small computers rather than a phone; indeed, no one mentioned the making calls on their phone the whole session.

What is responsive design?

Once Matt had made us deconstruct our mobile phone usage, he outlined what he meant by responsive design.

Rather than building for different devices (tablet, phone, laptop etc), fragmenting content across different apps, responsive design allows you to produce a single website that scales according to the device that’s accessing it.

Responsive design provides a solution to the proliferation of different devices that’s also manageable. It means you don’t have to second guess the devices people will be using.  Its fluidity means it will adapt to any device that’s being used.

Matt did, however, make it clear that there would be compromises as content will be reconfigured and lost/formatted for the different resolutions. The nature of navigation on the site will change for different devices.

The key is that is fluid and flexible, and adapts to different devices.

Matt’s presentation is available on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/Shuckle/web-app-and-responsive-design-for-libraries