Despite over 200,000 apps created so far for the iPhone and iPad, many of which are free, most libraries are still woefully under supported. If the goal is to allow mobile users access to the library’s catalog, databases, and all other resources and services, then we still have a long way to go in 2010.
Sometimes apps provide value-added features. In many cases, though, users have to settle for a url link to a portal designed for use on a mobile device. In most cases this provides a much less user-friendly experience than that found on laptops or PCs.
Part of the problem is that most libraries lack the technical support to write their own apps. Vendors have been slow to react to react as well, though that is changing and the environment could reverse itself during 2011.
Here are some “library” apps that are available right now:
EBSCO Databases – The Thrift Library now subscribes to over 30 popular EBSCO databases including the mega-database Academic Search Premier. Together, these databases provide indexing to almost 60,000 periodicals and full text to over 13,000.
Google Books for Mobile http://books.google.com/m Also good for other PDF collections such as Project Guttenberg.
H.W. Wilson Databases – The Thrift library subscribes to 6 H.W. Wilson databases indexing over 8,000 periodicals with full text access to almost 5,000 titles.
NAXOS This music database containing almost 700,000 tracks allows play back of “play lists” on mobile devices. The catch is that you cannot search the database for recordings not already saved to a playlist, and only faculty can create playlists.
NetLibrary – NetLibrary is a collection of up to 200,000 eBooks found in many libraries across the world. Most title are in the user friendly PDF format and may be accessed by the nook from Barnes & Noble, Sony Digital Readers (PRS-300, 505, 600, 700 and 900), as well as the COOL-ER. – not to mention any PC or Mac with Adobe Acrobat Reader on it. However, iPhones and iPads, and the very popular Kindle are not currently supported.
OCLC – This grand old institution has been at the cutting edge of library technology since its inception in 1967. Here are some free library/library-like apps:
· CampusBooks – Find free textbooks (iPhone or Android)
· BookMinder – Create a personalized list of books that interest you (Android)
· iRecommend – See which books you should be reading (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad)
· iBookshelf – Create your personal portable book database (iPhone and iPad)
· MyLibrary – Organize your personal media collection (iPhone and iPad)
· MyBox Office – Keep track of your DVD and VHS movies (iPhone and iPad)
· Disc Tracker – View your CD collection (iPhone and iPad)
More information on the apps and links mentioned here can be found on the Thrift library’s Knowledge Base.