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iPad library services, corporate-style
Monday, 25th June 2012
The use of iPads and other mobile technologies has been widely embraced in academic and public libraries. A quick search reveals various posts from libraries in these sectors using iPads to deliver services to users that are more efficient, engaging and productive.
The use of iPads and other mobile technologies has been widely embraced in academic and public libraries. A quick search reveals various posts from libraries in these sectors using iPads to deliver services to users that are more efficient, engaging and productive. Examples include Katherine Widdows’ recent blog posts on delivering a iPad roving service to users at Warwick University and, similarly, Fiona May’s post on Roving Reference, iPad-Style.
So what about corporate libraries? Perhaps there are a myriad of devices and services floating around in our sector and we just forgot to tell everyone about it. Or are we just yet to see the value? Information professionals will be well aware that corporate libraries and their users have very different needs to their academic and public cousins, but there is still much that we can learn and adapt to make such technologies relevant to our own organisations.
Research and reference queries
Like the academic sector, corporate libraries also have diverse collections, and an iPad roving service could be useful to reach out to users wherever they are located. Queries could be dealt with on spot without individuals having to return to their PCs, or calling colleagues for assistance. An iPad would also allow librarians to quickly become "embedded" in a particular department or context where the necessary resources may not be available.
With iPad in hand, librarians can quickly and seamlessly deliver training sessions to users in any location with Wi-Fi access. Corporate library users may also find that access to video content, such as YouTube, is blocked at their organisations. Loaning iPads to users would certainly help to side-step this problem and give users a chance to spend some time away from their desk.
Librarians are constant gatherers of information. Whether it is logging users' training and current awareness preferences, asking users to complete surveys and obtaining feedback on a specific activity.
Email can only go so far in helping to reach out to obtain this information, but an iPad would be a welcome boost. It would allow library staff to collect this information on the go, saving the need to process the resulting data back at their PCs.
An iPad could even be handed directly to users to complete the relevant details, who are likely to be more receptive to a new technology.
Interactive display stand
When the iPad is not on loan or roving around your organisation don't be tempted to lock it in a drawer. The Online College blog suggests using the iPad to create an interactive display or newsstand. Examples of iPads in this context can be seen on yooba and apps are available to turn your iPad into an interactive kiosk, e.g. Kiosk Pro.
Your Kiosk could include a customised newsfeed (e.g. Press Display), access to your library Intranet page or library catalogue. Or it could simply be used as a workstation for users to access personal email.
The two strands that have emerged are using the iPad as a device to assist librarians in delivering services, or loaning it directly to users. With the latter we have to keep an eye on licensing issues, as pointed out on the RIPS Law Librarian blog.
Also, if these two strands overlap in terms of usage then it could be worth getting two devices, especially if it is loaded up with lots of useful publications that are in demand.
So are you interested? If so, you better get writing that business case. And don't forget to blog about it.
By Dean Mason
Dean Mason is the Library and Information Services Manager in the London office of Salans LLP. He has a more than keen interest in current awareness technologies and in the last couple of years he has researched, developed and rolled out a current awareness service in the firm's London office. He wrote a chapter for the BIALL Legal Information Handbook on current awareness technologies, which is due to be published in late 2012 or early 2013. He is also a member of the BIALL Publications Committee, which includes editing the association's newsletter published six times a year. His achievements on the committee include a rewrite of the Legal Research Packs and redesign of association's newsletter.
You can follow him on Twitter @deanjmason, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
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