UofL Libraries go mobile
When a library went "mobile" in the old days, it loaded a bus with a few hundred books and headed into the community.
Now, going "mobile" means something else entirely.
University Libraries is making is easier for people to search for a book with a mobile version of its website.
"We were inspired by the fact that more and more students carry smart phones and this technology allows them to find information on the go," said Anna Marie Johnson, interim director, Ekstrom Library.
Students hadn't requested the service — yet, she said, but the libraries "wanted to stay current and be available where and when they need us."
"It's critical for the University Libraries to keep up with changing technology and meet the students where they are," she continued. "Ideally, it should be just as easy for our students to find quality sources of information on the library site as it is to look up a phone number on Google."
The mobile version of the libraries website is accessible to all mobile devices with Web access, Johnson said. It provides links to library hours, directions, a chat feature and subscription databases that have customized search screens for mobile devices (available just to UofL faculty, staff and students).
Going mobile is just one way University Libraries is trying to "break down the barriers to using library services and materials," she said.
Other ways are the WorldCat Local (Quick Search) feature on the libraries' website. It searches such library research materials as books, articles, government documents and media from around the world with an intuitive search screen. UofL users can request materials the WorldCat Local search finds in other libraries through interlibrary loan.
Then there's the conversely low-tech faculty book delivery. Faculty can request delivery of materials in UofL libraries to their offices.
"The book delivery initiative is designed to help make traditional library materials more accessible and readily available," Johnson said. "We want to do everything in our power to make sure faculty have access to the library materials they need for their research as quickly and easily as possible."
University Libraries isn't stopping with these initiatives. They want to make research help more accessible, too, and have reinstituted a chat research help service that it offered "a number of years ago."
Then, Johnson said, "it was not heavily used and we needed to focus our attention elsewhere. Now, that chat and texting are more widely used, we thought we'd try and offer the service again."
Students can send a chat from a number of different places on the libraries' Web pages, or they can use the chat service of their preference (AOL IM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo) to contact the libraries. They also can text the libraries at 502-509-3178.
"We plan to add our chat 'widget' or box to other library resources as the service develops," Johnson said.
"We now have six different ways that students can contact a librarian — and we hope that they do!"
(Editor's Note: University Libraries welcomes feedback about the new services to help in its planning process. An electronic comment form is at the bottom of the University Libraries home page.)