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Introduction. Both public and academic libraries across the United States are facing lean budgets in tough economic times while public demand for library services is rising. Librarians are struggling to meet increased public demand with reduced budgets. (OBVIOUS).

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Presentation Transcript
  • Both public and academic libraries across the United States are facing lean budgets in tough economic times while public demand for library services is rising.
  • Librarians are struggling to meet increased public demand with reduced budgets. (OBVIOUS)
does mobile technology ave money
Does Mobile Technology $ave Money?
  • Can libraries reduce costs using technology (including mobile reference) wisely while providing improved services?
  • Survey results
  • This presentation examines and identifies a number of low-cost, high-quality resources to help libraries with their technology (especially mobile) needs
  • Poll: How many libraries here are new to mobile reference?
  • Does your library have statistics whether mobile technology (especially mobile reference) has saved money?  How has mobile reference revamped traditional services? (if any)
survey answers
Survey Answers
  • Only 6 responses
  • Many respondents reported that they did not have statistics on budget savings or that mobile reference had not saved any money
  • One library: “We do not have specific statistics or $$ amounts but we definitely would not be able to provide mobile reference on our own if it were not for the My InfoQuest cooperative. It would take more staff to monitor and answer text reference questions if we were doing it on our own.  We have saved the amount of money it would cost to purchase text-a-librarian or Altarama.”
survey answers1
Survey Answers
  • Overall, mobile reference has revamped traditional library services.
  • Response 1: “It’s just another channel of communication that we offer in addition to our other types of reference.”
  • Response 2: “As far as revamping, I think mobile technology has changed service for patrons more than it changed what we do. It is freeing up some staff from the telephones. We don’t have to make as many calls to patrons about materials because they get the info by email or text message.”
survey answers2
Survey Answers
  • Response 3: “We have been able to extend our reference services through this technology.” “Because of our participation in My Info Quest, we are able to offer extended hours for text reference and have not had to pursue an alternative service (saving us money). Our Virtual Library Staff provides a chat reference service Monday - Fridays from 8:30-5:00. We also use Library Answers for our FAQ and also answer email questions that come in through that service. The Library Answers knowledge base is populated by our Virtual Library Staff.  In addition, we provide email responses to people coming into us through our ‘Contact Us’ form.”
examples and sources for aving money
Examples and Sources for $aving Money
  • ALA TechSource
  • Sarah Houghton-Jan, aka “Librarian in Black”
  • Contra Costa County Library
sarah houghton jan librarian in black

Sarah Houghton-Jan“Librarian in Black”

librarian in black continued
Librarian in Black (continued)
  • Digital futures manager of the San Jose Public Library (CA)
  • Named a 2009 Library Journal Mover & Shaker as a Trendspotter
  • She has given many presentations about technology and saving money in libraries
librarian in black continued1
Librarian in Black (continued)
  • Recently at the Handheld Librarian 3 (July 2010) she presented “Mobile Services on a Shoestring (aka for Broke @$$ Libraries).” You can access it here: (
  • 10 ways to save money: website, catalog, databases, etc.
librarian in black continued2
Librarian in Black (continued)
  • Mobile reference services are not the ONLY way to save money. Examples:
  • Open source software (OpenAccess)
  • Online book club tools
  • See posts “New Technologies that Save Money, Time, and Service” (2009) and “13 Ways (and 147 Tools) to Help Your Library Save Money on Technology” (January 24, 2010)
librarian in black continued3
Librarian in Black (continued)
  • Contact her:
  • E-mail:
  • Facebook: LibrarianInBlack
  • Twitter: TheLib
ala techsource
ALA TechSource
  • “We're always looking to explore how libraries around the world are using new technologies to their improve access and services.”
mary ann hodel orange county library fl
Mary Ann Hodel (Orange County Library, FL)
  • Since 2003, the Library has used Vocera, a voice communication platform that provides instant voice communication between library staff. The small badge-like device, worn around the neck on a lanyard, is a voice transmitter and receiver that connects to the wi-fi system for immediate voice communication with key personnel.
mary ann hodel continued
Mary Ann Hodel (continued)
  • OC has saved money by reducing the number of telephone outlets in the public part of the building, and maximized its staff by allowing them to rove the building to provide assistance to the customers.
  • The Library also used iPods for reference service and a cell-phone service for self-guided library tours.
snap go project
Snap & Go Project
  • A mobile platform using Quick Response (QR) codes pushing “new and existing library content and services into the hands of cell phone users.”
  • Designed to improve services and reduce costs
  • Goal: “Bring a number of new services to Contra Costa County Library customers through their mobile devices to support self-directed use of the library and change the way libraries do business.”
  • Objective: “Create mobile-friendly web pages and utilize content from other online resources, such as Syndetics, to develop pages.”
snap go continued
Snap & Go (continued)
  • Check out library mobile website:
  • Objective: Develop a Mobile Patron Support System (MPSS) linking customers with cell phones to library services. The MPSS including a 2D Barcode Generator, a server that handles requests from mobile devices.
snap go project continued
Snap & Go Project (continued)
  • Objective: “Create QR codes to link patrons to information relating specifically to the item and location of the originating barcode and pointing people to the library’s Facebook page, accessing the library’s SMS reference service, or checking out a book.”
  • Example: QR codes are attached to library materials for readers advisory services. Codes on the Teens’ Top Ten nominations links readers to, where they can access reviews, view other nominees, place holds, and directly participate in choosing the winners by casting their vote for their favorites. They can simply snap the QR code on the front of the book they just read, without having to ask a question, visit the library, get on a computer, or type a URL.
  • Unclear whether mobile reference and technologies have saved libraries money
  • There are resources and examples out there for saving money
  • Overall, mobile reference has revamped traditional library services, allowing some libraries more space for mobile reference