Friday, February 21, 2014

Library & Reference (Thing #11)

Somethings old
OverDrive is kind of  "my thing." I love it. Not a day goes by that I don't use the OverDrive Media Console app in at least one form.  Audiobooks on my Android phone, eBooks on my Nook Color or Windows 8 computer.  Plus, I do our Digital Library collection development, teach training classes, and a large chunk of the tech support for the region in person, via phone and email.  For those of you who do the same thing, you know, tech support via phone or email is a whole 'nother ball game! You have to know what you are "looking at" without looking at it, to envision what your patron is seeing in your head.  Because of this, of all the apps I use, both personally and professionally, it is easily the app I am most comfortable and familiar with.

Our library also has had the Zinio for Libraries digital magazine service since November, and I also use that regularly.  Again I use it on various devices (Android, Windows, and the desktop Zinio Reader 4) so I am familiar with the different formats of the app.  Zinio is fairly user friendly, so we don't get as many requests for tech support, though Recorded Books & Zinio offering free patron support also helps.  The one big question seems to be that: 1) you go to your library's Zinio site to checkout, but you cannot read within the browser and 2) you read within the app, but you cannot checkout within the app.  I think part of this is because OverDrive has trained us to get books and read within OMC.  We've only had the service for a few months, but our use hasn't been quite what we expected.  The expected feature from Recorded Books, due sometime this year, of either opting-in to automatically checking out the next issue or being notified when the next issue is available (I can't remember which), will be a welcome addition!  For me as a user too.

I have also done quite a bit of work recently exploring the OneClickdigital service for our library.  I am personally not a fan of the way they have separate apps, 1 for eBooks and 1 for eAudio.  I approach our digital library searching for a title, and usually don't care which format I get the book in.  Other users are only interested in a single format, and would only search the appropriate app.  So I guess that boils down to individual preference.  The apps and desktop Media Manager seem to have some other kinks as well, and not as many features as OMC, but its still a viable service. OneClick is also developing new apps and adding new content, so I expect it will become more appealing as we move forward.

Currently, our library does not have a mobile app or even a mobile site, but it is something we know we need to work on.  I even saw a demo of a mobile catalog at some point...Quite frankly, our website in general needs work, and we know it.  I will be attending the LibTech Conference in March and I plan on attending some of the website sessions to learn some tips, explore mobile websites, and get some ideas for us as we move forward.  Relying on my "Intro to Web Design for Info Orgs" course from grad school, of course. ;)

Wow, can you tell digital library stuff is my passion?  All of that without even exploring something new! 

Something new
So here's the something new: ELM Mobile.  Duh, we have ELM Mobile. I've never accessed ELM on a mobile device before.  And it's awesome!  Overall, I actually like the layout much better than the desktop version. The home page is clean and wording clear : research now, ask a librarian, plan your research, view help videos, find your library, and like us on Facebook.

First, I spent time exploring the mobile friendly databases, the majority of which are EBSCO databases, though Britannica is available too.  Thank goodness Master File Premier is on there; patrons need their Consumer Reports.  Probably my #1 reason for referring people to ELM is for access to Consumer Reports.  Everything adapted wonderfully to my screen size, except the page to create an EBSCO account.  For some reason, that graphics and wording on that page were misaligned.

I tested the Ask a Librarian chat widget, and said hello to Librarian Beth in South Carolina!  I actually think I prefer the mobile version to the desktop of this widget. Yet another reminder of how much I'd like if our library participated in AskMN...

The Research Project Calculator and Find Your Library are identical in their mobile & desktop versions.  Not as mobile feeling as the other aspects, but not still fairly accessible.  Under the menu options: students, teachers, librarians, MN Community, About, FAQ, and Contact are very adaptable to mobile.  The ELM Learning Center page is also less so, but still accessible.

Overall, I give ELM Mobile two thumbs up!  I see people with tablets using it more than people like me on their phones, but its great either way.  Oh gosh, you know what really be the icing on the cake? MNLink mobile...

I think our library system does a good job of promoting its Zinio & OverDrive services.  We promote them via blog, newsletter, press release, social media, and physical handouts in the library.  And they promote themselves by word of mouth.  In general, I think libraries do a pretty good job of promoting our flashier services, those services we have with the big $ contracts.

What we also do, is take for granted all of the wonderful databases and services available to us all via MN State Library Services, LSTA, Minitex, and...(who am I forgetting here?)  Not just the mobile version, but in general.  We aren't proactive in our promotion of ELM.  If a patron comes to us with a research question, sure we use ELM.  And we have the handouts, bookmarks, etc. laying around our branches.  But we aren't promoting it via blog, newsletter, and social media.  ELM isn't flashy, its something we're accustomed to, so we aren't excited about it.  Well, that changes now!  Exploring ELM mobile tonight was the kick in the butt I needed to be reminded of all the great resources available via ELM, the mobile version is a great bonus for accessibility, and I'm excited about ELM!

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