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Last summer a number of rapid upgrade plans were announced by mobile phone service providers. Now we don't have to wait two years to upgrade our phones! Isn't that good news?
In late September the new iPhone 5S was released causing long lines and numerous interesting news stories about them. The fairly significant operating system upgrade to iOS 7 for Apple mobile devices was released a couple of days earlier, changing the way our iPads, iPods, and iPhones look and work. But, contrary to a fake ad that was circulated, it does not magically make your iPhone water proof. There are cases that claim to water proof your phone if you wish to invest.
That same week smart phone pioneer, Blackberry, announced the reduction of 40% of their workforce.
The thinner and smaller fifth generation iPad Air with retina display was revealed just about a month later and the next iPad mini is due out soon. Both are available with cellular phone service options as well as WiFi.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual EDUCAUSE conference in Anaheim.
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology.
As one might expect, there was a lot of talk about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and online education as well as trends in how students - in traditional and non-traditional programs - use and experience technology in colleges and universities.
According to the 2013 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, undergraduate students own 2-3 internet capable devices. But my earlier reading about information seeking behavior has indicated that students don't use their mobile devices to do library research. So, I attend a session which reported on the key findings of the ECAR Study. They found that students are "ready to use their mobile devices more for academics, and they look to institutions and instructors for opportunities and encouragement to do so."
Our library is doing our part by revising our website to automatically detect and adjust the display to maximize viewing according to the user's mobile device screen size. Many research database interfaces are doing the same and some vendors (such as ebrary, EBSCO, and Mango Languages) offer specialized apps that can be downloaded so you can use them without a browser. (Disclaimer: There may be no real advantage to using any mobile site or the app associated with a service. Each app must be configured with your HIU login credentials before it can be used.)
Students and non-students alike prefer convenience over relevance. More and more we prefer and expect to be able to use mobile, light-weight, always connected, high speed, devices for everything from getting directions to making deposits, email, text, and the occasional phone call. It is the library's challenge to deliver relevant information conveniently - the way people expect to get it - while using unexpected roadblocks as teachable moments along the way.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.