13 Dec 2012

LIR/AGI Mobile Technologies Symposium, Dublin, Nov. 22nd 2012

Guest post by Amye Quigley

On Thursday, November 22nd I attended the Mobile Technologies Symposium held jointly by LIR and AGI in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin. There were some really interesting talks on projects that have been implemented in a few universities as well as a few on making library content available in a mobile way. A couple of the presentations I didn’t find particularly relevant or interesting to be honest and one or two people could do with taking a cue from Louise Saults’ Prezi presentation which was by far the most appealing to look at presentation of the day. But rather than focusing on the negative I’d like to highlight a few of the talks which I found the most interesting and motivating. The videos of these talks are available to view here.

Kindles in the Library: NUIM Library Kindle Pilot 2011; Louise Saults, NUI Maynooth
Last year Maynooth introduced Kindle lending in the library. Louise Saults talked about the reasons behind their choice of using Kindles, how they set up the project and what kind of percentage borrowing they’ve had so far.

The library decided on Kindles due to their size, ease of use and overall cost manageability. NUIM library initially purchased five but quickly increased this to ten altogether. Library staff were given the option of borrowing the Kindles in advance so that they would be familiar with the devices should students have any difficulties. The Kindles were uploaded with 22 free e-books at first, but this has now increased to 150 titles altogether. The Business and History departments in Maynooth took part in this pilot project and the books uploaded were relevant to those departments.

The downsides to the project included the uploading process, which was time consuming as it had to be done wirelessly or by USB cable on each Kindle for each of the 150 titles. Also, as book publishers tend to restrict sharing of publications to between four and six Kindles in some cases it was necessary to purchase more than one copy of the title. It was of course necessary to de-register the Kindles once they were set up so that students could not buy books on the library account! Catalogue records had to be created for each Kindle and for each title on the Kindle, a 500 note was created to inform borrowers that the book was available on Kindle at the Information Desk. Louise then went into some practicalities of deciding on borrowing period (one week), fine for damage or loss (€100), and how they marketed the Kindles to library users (Facebook, Twitter, library website, in the relevant departments).

In order to get feedback the borrowers were asked to fill in a survey when they returned the Kindle with a prize of a Kindle as incentive to complete it. Borrowers found them easy to use, to carry and were happy with the borrowing period. Overall the pilot was successful and has now been rolled out to include more departments for the current academic year.

We’re going to run a feasibility study on whether our library could do something similar, possibly next year.

The Mobile Library at UCD – Achievements and Plans; Samantha Drennan, Joshua Clark, University College Dublin
Samantha Drennan and Joshua Clark talked about creating a mobile version of the library website and what they decided to include and exclude from this version. They decided to have “need to know information” on the mobile website. This allows students to browse the library catalogue, lets them log in to their account, get branch information and opening hours, etc. It’s simple to use and loads quickly on a mobile browser even when limited to 3G. In the academic year 2011 to 2012 only 1.8% of page views to the UCD library website were by mobile devices. In October 2012 this had risen to 3.7%. The information students tend to be viewing on their mobiles is essential library information rather than looking to search databases. But there is still a question over how necessary a mobile website is and how much of an impact mobile users are making on library website usage.

Lemons, badges, fun and games: Gamification and Libraries; Andrew Walsh, University of Huddersfield
I really enjoyed this talk as I think it was an interesting idea to try and encourage getting people into the library more.

Andrew Walsh spoke about a study they did in Huddersfield to see if library usage by students had an impact on their final grade. They found that there was a correlation between use of e-resources, book borrowing and student attainment. But there was no correlation between visiting the library and student attainment and the librarians at the University of Huddersfield wanted to try and change that, and so began the Lemontree project.

Lemontree is quite like those games on Facebook where you carry out tasks and gain trophies or as is the case with Lemontree, badges. Students register once and it links to their library card. They don’t need to sign in again after this. They can also link to their Twitter or Facebook accounts and it will post their achievements to these. The game automatically gathers information about the students’ library activities. So when they borrow or return books, write reviews, log in to use e-resources, visit the library, etc. they will receive points. There are different badges and levels and the more points accrued the higher the level and the more your lemon tree grows. The game is proving quite popular so far. Students have been talking about it on Facebook and Twitter and seem to be using it. It’s still too early to find out if this will, in the long run, affect student attainment, but this will be the next part of the project to study.


  1. Great minds think alike Amye. These were the talks I enjoyed the most. We probably agree on the less interesting/relevant ones too! FWIW, even without a mobile enabled website, we see around 9% of our library website visits coming from mobile devices

  2. Did not make the seminar myself but the videos are a great way to catch up. David, 9% is surprisingly high - do you think it is mainly phones or tablets? Also do you know the corresponding % for catalogue visits?
    I though Hugh's presentation was also spot on - some people seem to think there should be an app for everything rather than just services that people tend to use/need in a mobile context.

  3. It's mainly (i)phones. For the last 30 days for the catalogue, it's a whopping 12% mobile visits. It's late on a Thursday evening so I'm not going to drill down to far, but I'd roughly estimate it's 3:1 mobiles to tablets. Interesting to see how that may change in future months