Tag Archives: fact finding survey

End of project survey – methods to support current and future m-library initiatives

This is part of a series of blog posts on the end of project fact finding survey.

Respondents were asked to indicate from a pre-determined list the methods that they would use to support current and future m-library initiatives in their library/information service. Most respondents plan to use a selection of sources, including (in order of popularity):

  • Keeping up-to-date with mobile technology
  • Case studies
  • Attending and following events
  • Reading/following existing research
  • Sharing and reading information via social media
  • Library/librarian blogs
  • Social media discussions
  • How-to guides
  • Mailing lists
  • Conducting own research
  • Project blogs

Other responses included collaborative projects (with other organisations or others within the organisation who may be more knowledgeable), dicsussion with/learning from colleagues, in house training/awareness sessions, creating your own m-library initiative, video demonstrations, and support from suppliers.

Some comments gave a little more detail:

Practical demos and sessions are always the most fulfilling so you can see the technology in action. This is what people remember.

Good case studies in relevant types of libraries (in our case engineering and industrial) might help.

Hopefully this blog will be one place to help signpost to these sources of information.

End of project survey – confidence in implementing mobile technologies

This is part of a series of blog posts on the end of project fact finding survey.

We were interested to find out the confidence level in implementing mobile technologies. The figure below shows the results:

Bar chart to show level of confidence in implementing mobile technologies

Bar chart to show level of confidence in implementing mobile technologies

Fortunately, the majority of respondents (72%) felt confident or very confident about implementing mobile technologies in the libraries. However, 26% did not feel confident, and 2% did not feel at all confident.

The comments explaining the reasons for these responses tended to relate to:

  • infrastructure
  • knowledge and skills
  • support from management
  • resources (e.g. time and money) to work on development

Lack of support at senior manager level as well as IT refusing to support mobile technologies (not confident response)

We have the knowledge & skills available, it’s just a case of implementation when we have time (confident response)

We are confident in our ability to offer these services once we have the technology and time to do so, but we’re not so confident that we will be able to find the time to implement these initiatives (confident response)

Flexible strategy in place with full senior management backing and growing expertise among Library staff (very confident response)

The responses emphasise the importance of having these elements in place in order for the staff to feel confident to implement mobile technologies.

End of project survey – barriers/challenges to implementation

This is part of a series of blog posts on the end of project fact finding survey.

We added some additional categories to the question about barriers/challenges based on the open responses to the last survey. We also asked an additional question about the primary barrier to discover which are the biggest barriers at present.

Barriers/challenges to utilising mobile technologies

Barriers/challenges to utilising mobile technologies

As can be seen from the graph, resource constraints are experienced by the majority of respondents (79%), with infrastructure/policy constraints being experience from almost half of respondents (47%). Other barriers and challenges were also present to a varying degree, and some added other barriers, including:

  • Traditional mindset of library staff/management resulting in risk averse culture and a steep learning curve if staff were to get involved
  • Vendors investing in separate apps rather than supporting access via library websites
  • Lack of third party support for mobile resources (e.g. catalogue, e-journals and databases)

When asked what the primary barrier was, the following pie chart shows the results:

Primary barrier to utilising mobile technologies

Primary barrier to utilising mobile technologies

As shown, resource constraints are the primary barrier for a large proportion (46%) of respondents. Infrastructure/policy constraints are the primary barrier for 17% of respondents, whilst licensing concerns, lack of technical support and not an organisation priority are also primary barriers for over 5% of respondents each.

A number of solutions were suggested to overcome barriers and challenges to utilising mobile technologies. These included:

  • Quick wins/low cost solutions
  • Demonstrating a clear business case
  • Staff changes (additional staffing or re-assigning staff duties)
  • Partnerships (internal and external)
  • Staff training
  • Learn from best practice of other libraries
  • Outsourcing

Comments and plans recommending ways for the barriers to be overcome included:

initially go for quick wins, using apps/services that are free or low cost, whilst beginning to embed mobile considerations into university processes and projects

We hope that clearly demonstrating the potential benefits for the student experience may result in funding being made available for mobile app development

We recently created a new position for a Digital Branch Manager, which helps shape our vision for all digital services, mobile included, and added 1 FTE to our IT staff

Utilising expertise from other departments (e.g. IT department) and other institutions

We are actively seeking partnerships with other businesses in the form of affiliate partnerships, donations, and advertising revenue

Keep trying to acquire good practice from others to save on development costs

End of project survey – future m-library initiatives

This is part of a series of blog posts on the end of project fact finding survey.

Interestingly, when asked if their library was considering using mobile technologies to support any aspect of the service or resources provision in future, less people responded yes (81.8%) than in the first survey (90.4%). This still shows the majority intend to incorporate mobile technologies in future plans, though may represent a slight decrease in planning (or could be due to a different sample of respondents.

Is your library/information service considering using mobile technologies to support any aspect of the service or resource provision in future?

Is your library/information service considering using mobile technologies to support any aspect of the service or resource provision in future?

Many of those who planned to use mobile technologies in this way in future did not yet know how they planned to use them (probably a sensible approach with things changing so rapidly!). Those who had started planning for future included the following (in order of popularity):

  • Roving support (using tablets for reference enquiries, demonstrations and supporting teaching)
  • Mobile catalogue
  • Mobile app
  • Mobile website
  • Mobile access to resources
  • SMS
  • Loaning mobile devices
  • Social media
  • QR codes
  • Mobile web chat/enquiry service
  • Augmented reality
  • Strategy development
  • Near Field Communication/Radio-Frequency Identification
  • Supporting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
  • Bibliographic management

Many of these are similar to the existing or current m-library initiatives, though it is interesting to note a few additions to the usual list such as mobile web chat, strategy development, near field communication and radio-frequency identification, supporting bring your own device, and bibliographic management.

End of project survey – current m-library initiatives

This is part of a series of blog posts on the end of project fact finding survey.

In the first fact finding survey, we discovered a number of different areas libraries were working on. Using the broad categories from the results of the first survey, we used the end of project survey as an opportunity to see which were most popular. The results are shown below:

Current m-library services offered

Current m-library services offered

Those who selected ‘other’ included additional explanation on the categories selected as well as the following areas:

  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare)
  • Location of free PCs in library
  • Status of printers in library
  • Mobile discovery tool
  • SMS reference service
  • Access to mobile content (e.g. ebooks, audiobooks, music)
  • Mobile e-learning website or VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)
  • Mobile chat (enquiry service)
  • Newswire from news agencies
  • Teaching/instruction on mobile devices
  • SMS to send bibliographic data from website to phone
  • Mobile LibGuides

When asked if they were currently involved in any m-library iniative projects, 61% of survey respondents said yes. In order of popularity, areas which were currently being worked on were as follows:

  1. Mobile access to resources
  2. Mobile apps (for library or wider organisation)
  3. Mobile website
  4. Mobile catalogue
  5. Using mobile devices to support roving reference
  6. QR codes
  7. SMS
  8. Loaning mobile devices
  9. Augmented reality
  10. Social media

The results from these two section of the survey suggest that perhaps QR codes are already well used in libraries, and are therefore not a main priority for further development in many libraries (though are still being developed in others). Mobile catalogue is also available for a number libraries, but this is still being added for other libraries. Mobile access to resources is a main priority for many libraries in terms of current projects and initiatives, as shown by a sample of comments:

Ensuring all online services are mobile-friendly

Developing a web page which details mobile versions of information resources.

We’re just finishing a project to address the challenges involved in providing mobile access to eresources through a discovery tool

I have asked our systems team to promote the implementation of a mobile version of our discovery service for the coming academic year

The results also suggest that more libraries are looking at utilising mobile devices to support roving reference (i.e. staff using tablet computers to help users at the point of need) and also loaning mobile devices (primarily Kindles or iPads).

End of project survey – overview

Thanks again to those of you who completed the end of project fact finding survey we ran earlier this year. As before (see blog posts from previous fact finding survey), we’ll be publishing summary blog posts over the next couple of weeks sharing the findings from the different parts of the survey.

There were 138 responses to the survey, primarily from the academic library sector (68%).

Respondents by sector

Respondents by sector

The ‘other’ responses included health or hospital libraries, government libraries and law libraries.

The majority of respondents were from the UK (65%), with other respondents from the USA (28.9%), Canada (2%), Australia, Belgium and Turkey.

The majority of the respondents’ libraries either already have m-library initiatives (92%), or are currently working on m-library projects or services (61%) – unsurprising due to self-selected nature of sample. Common uses at present included (in order of frequency):

  • QR codes
  • Mobile catalogue
  • Mobile website
  • Guides to support the use of mobile services/apps
  • Mobile app for the institution
  • Using mobile devices to support roving reference
  • Loaning mobile devices
  • Mobile app for the library
  • SMS communication about borrower record

82% of respondents plan to implement additional m-library initiatives in future, though many did not have concrete plans in place and would follow developments to see which would be most relevant for their library. For those who did have plans, many included initiatives already mentioned. More innovative ideas included a mobile enquiry service, augmented reality, NFC/RFID, and supporting bring your own device (BYOD).

Barriers to development of m-library initiatives were experienced by a large proportion of respondents (95% gave at least one barrier). When asked to indicate the primary barrier, the main issues were resource constraints (46%) and infrastructure constraints (17%). A number of suggestions were made with regards to overcoming barriers, including quick wins/low costs solutions, a strong business case, staffing changes, and internal or external partnerships.

Though there are still some who do not feel at all confident implementing mobile technologies at their library, 72% felt confident or very confident. Confidence correlated with having infrastructure in place, support from management, and the resources to work on development.

Respondents planned to inform developments in a number of different ways, planning to keep up-to-date with mobile technologies, use case studies, attend or follow events, read or follow existing research, sharing and reading social media, library/librarian blogs, social media discussion, how-to guides, and mailing lists.

More detailed analysis for specific sections of the survey will follow next week using the using the end of project survey tag.

Report on current m-library activity

The report based on the findings of the fact finding survey we ran at the end of last year is now available. You can view it embedded below (or in full screen mode using the bottom right icon), or you can visit the report on Slideshare to download a copy.


The executive summary gives an overview of the findings:

In order to gain a clearer overview of the current landscape with regards to mobile technology in libraries, Evidence Base undertook an online survey as part of the M-Library Community Support Project1. The survey was live from November 2011 until January 2012 and open to all. It was promoted on numerous library listservs, blogs and on Twitter.

There were 188 responses to the survey, primarily from the academic library sector (64%). 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.

Many of the respondents’ libraries either already have m-library initiatives (63%) or are planning them in future (90%). Common uses at present included:

  • Mobile catalogue
  • Mobile website
  • QR codes
  • Supporting use of mobile services/apps
  • Mobile app for library
  • Institutional mobile app
  • Mobile devices to support roving reference/staff demonstrations
  • Loaning mobile devices
  • SMS communication about borrower record (due dates etc.)

Many commented that their library was interested in further developing their support for mobile technologies and are either in the planning stage at present or evaluating the potential that such developments could offer. There were also a number watching developments closely but adopting a wait and see approach.

Analysis of the survey highlighted the fact 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. 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.

Respondents 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.

The information from the survey has informed the m-library community support project greatly; it has provided information for potential case studies and helped shape development of the community website. Ongoing consultation is an important element of the project; please subscribe to the m-library community mailing list to receive updates on how you can be involved.

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.

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