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Make It Mobile

Reaching Users with Web Pages Designed for Handheld Devices

By Willie Miller, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis | June 01, 2011

Mobile app shows location of available computers.

IUPUI University Library is committed to connecting users with information in transformative and accessible platforms. One such platform is the mobile website, UL Mobile, which offers streamlined interfaces to:

  • Key library information (hours, directions, wireless signal strength maps)
  • Librarians (Text-a-Librarian, Ask-a-Librarian, subject librarians)
  • Resources (IUPUI WorldCat, research databases, Search IU)

Chip Dye, Director of Information Technology, and Andrew Smith, Lead Technology Analyst, launched the mobile website in 2009, and I joined the development team in 2010. As a liaison librarian with significant instruction responsibilities, I recognized how valuable a mobile presence could be for our users, particularly students. I jumped at the chance to work with the development team and bring the perspective of a librarian who regularly works with library users.

As a member of Indiana University's Faculty Learning Community, I was able to introduce the mobile site as a learning tool in my instruction sessions when students were using iPads. They provided incredible feedback about the site's usability. In response, we added features, including a study room reservation page, and updated existing pages for more compatibility across mobile devices.

UL Mobile gets approximately 1,600 hits a month, compared with the 170,000 hits for the full website. We promote it on our institutional and library websites, on campus TV, and with demonstrations at student orientation events. We try to stay current on the research about mobile library initiatives, and we plan to do formal research of our own.

Our next steps are to create Apple and Android apps and to develop mobile tools for our information literacy curriculum. Our work with mobile technologies is just beginning, and as they transform, so will our services and resources.