At this year's mobility-themed conference of the ABQLA, Chad Crichton, Coordinator of Reference and Instruction at the University of Toronto Scarborough Library, discussed the ramifications of mobile technologies on our understanding of Information Literacy instruction and what it means to be information literate in the 21st century. Chad encouraged his listeners to think about ways they could insert themselves into available 'apps' and to look for unique aspects of their library collections that could be made mobile.
Mobile technology introduces new challenges when it comes to information literacy, and as a starting point it is necessary to understand how devices change the information seeking behaviour of users. More so than with websites, a 'mobile mindset' demands quick and immediate results. Patrons accessing the library via a mobile device are doing something in the moment and are hyper conscious of the time factor. They are unlikely to complete an advanced search form or browse to the second page of results. In response to this, Chad noted the distinction between an app and a website available via a mobile phone. Increasingly, libraries are developing highly streamlined service apps more appropriate for mobile devices rather than relying on their website.
However Chad also noted that there are many apps available that can be used without custom development. He discussed several ways in which libraries are using existing apps to allow for 'spoken keyword' searching, location awareness (GPS), barcode/QR scanning, and augmented reality.
To stress the importance of thinking about mobility, Chad noted that Google now develops for mobile first and then makes services backwards compatible for the regular web. Vendors are increasingly looking to apps to deliver their products to users directly, introducing a new level of competition for libraries. He concluded by noting that just as all librarians are now 'Internet Librarians', very soon mobility will not even be considered a separate concern to be addressed but assumed to be part of core library services.
For those interested in Chad's presentation, he has been kind enough to share his slides, which are linked below.