A comprehensive study of worldwide mobile device acquisition revealed that over the past decade “the rate of iOS and Android device adoption has surpassed that of any consumer technology in history”*.
As a digital publishing company specialising in mobile apps, Exact Editions wanted to better understand the function of mobile technology in libraries today and their place in the future. A survey was conducted in January 2015 to a number of librarians worldwide. It quickly became evident that librarians globally are already recognising the sudden increase in students adopting mobile devices for academic purposes. Among our survey 68% of librarians revealed that students frequently used mobile devices to access e-resources in their libraries currently, while all of them answered that this will most definitely increase in the future.
The popularity of mobile technology in libraries is as a result of the increase in students using mobile devices as a source of information. By removing multiple methods of access, Exact Editions have ensured that connection to the apps is as simple as possible through immediate IP authentication. This eradicates the need for lengthy logins requiring a username and password. Most importantly, complete access is enabled when students are off campus through remote/EZ proxy access and Shibboleth for UK institutions.
Cross platform compatibility is a crucial requirement for libraries. Over half of the librarians surveyed estimated that the use of tablets and phones will become more prevalent than desktop resources, while all of them recognised the essential requirement in offering multi platform resources. Indeed with this, students have seamless access and the capacity to read an article on a variety of platforms from online on a desktop, or once the title has downloaded, offline on a mobile device; through apps the students have a 24/7 mobile library. Moreover, the magazines available via Exact Editions are accessible on both Android and iOS devices, again ensuring accessibility is at the forefront of our apps.
During our research the concept of layout was another important concern for librarians. A high 91% of librarians agreed that the publication should maintain the original look of the printed copy. This not only ensures that the content retains an aesthetic quality, but also provides contextual background, a pivotal necessity for much research. Additionally with mobile apps, the ease at which users are able to scroll quickly through the publications pages ensures reading is far more organic. Discovery remains effortless through the provision of ‘stacks’ that provide a fluid channel in which to flick between issues, thus making reading all the more engaging, easy and enjoyable.
The rapid rise in the popularity of mobile technology along with the potent results of the survey, underlines the growing need for information to be available via app technology in libraries.