When you look at your phone so much more than calling comes to mind. You can record tasks that you need to accomplish within the day, record voice memos, listen to music or audio books during your commute or at the gym, respond to email, get directions, and update your social media accounts. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
For most of us smartphones have become indispensable in how we communicate, consume, and connect with information and people. But guess what, it’s not happening through voice calls. Recently CTIA, the wireless industry association released that the average number of voice minutes per U.S. user has fallen for the last two years, and that the average time taken for local calls was just 1.81 minutes in 2009, versus 2.27 in 2008. It shows that the number of text messages sent by the average U.S. user spiked 50% in 2009 from the previous year. What this says to me is that the mobile future is here, but is your library ready for it?
With this change, your services should also to be accessible. You can do this in a number of ways. You can do this by having a mobile interface which is especially designed for viewing on mobile devices or just have a mobile OPAC. Here is an example from the Auburn University Library in Auburn, AL. Some libraries have taken it a step further and created mobile applications through iTunes that do everything from searching the catalog, to your hours, locations, and directions to branches via Google Maps like the District of Columbia Public Library. Others are creating mobile library tours where patrons can either download video or audio to their mobile device or library loaned equipment. The best part is some of these are in different languages.
Another avenue is SMS (short message service). Through this you can see if the book you requested is available, get due date reminders, request a loan, renew your materials, get your fines, check the availability of a book, hours of the library, alerts to programs, and reference services. Lastly, you can have mobile collections through services like Overdrive via their Apple or Droid applications, instruction through podcasts, and language services.
To remain relevant in this mobile age you need to try and have at least one if not all of these services depending upon your location, size of population served, and patron technology level. The future is in your hand, it’s your choice to respond.