We’ve already talked about how today’s students are moving away from paper-based resources and using technology as the basis for their studies. For librarians, this is a sign that it’s increasingly necessary to reach students where they are: on the internet, using their computers, tablets and phones to download and digest information. Developing a solid mobile strategy isn’t just something that the best library directors should be doing, it’s something that all academic librarians need to do.
One of the most underutilized ways to reach students on mobile is through mobile apps. Once a digital no-man’s-land of games and default Apple programs, apps are now being used to do everything from check a bank account and track financial records to help users lose weight or figure out the best outfit for their next date night. Here are some of our tips and tricks to get your library on every student’s iPhone home screen:
Leverage existing apps.
Take a page from Virginia Tech’s virtual book and build an app shelf for students and faculty to access. This online database includes the Virginia Tech librarians’ recommendations for database apps like EBSCOhost and ebrary as well as full-test journal archives and mobile websites that students and faculty alike can access from their phone or tablet. If you don’t have the bandwidth or coding know-how to create your own app, this is a great way to increase your library’s mobile presence and add value to your students’ experience of your resources.
Use campus resources to get your databases online.
Many smartphones have built-in VPN capacity, and your campus likely runs its wifi and internet through a VPN as well. The UC Riverside Libraries figured out how to leverage this connection to get students mobile access to their offerings. Their site contains directions for students to download the Cisco AnyConnect App to add the university VPN connection to their phone, which then allows them to access their library’s resources through a secure connection on the mobile browser. It requires some clever work on your students’ part, but it helps them access all of your resources wherever they are!
Make your own app!
Are you a budding app developer who knows their way around a line of code? More and more universities these days have their own apps, and there’s no reason that libraries shouldn’t build their own apps as well. For a great example, check out Adelphi University’s AU2Go, a mobile app for Adelphi students, staff and faculty that gets them access to not only library offerings and databases but academic calendars and course evaluations. Check with your university to see if they’ve got an app that could integrate your library’s resources, or take matters into your own hands to create a library-specific app.
If you’ve already got an app created for your library, you’re a mobile maven. Check out our checklist of the top tools cutting-edge libraries are using to stay relevant, and let us know which of them you’re using—and check out the Mango app while you’re at it!