Next Step Mobile: Strategy, Services, & PRM

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Nov 12, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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Next

Step

Mobile
:

Strategy,

Services
,

&

PRM

Social Eyes


Journal

of Web Librarianship


Lisa Carlucci Thomas

Director, Design Think Do (designthinkdo.org)

@lisacarlucci


As emerging information technologies have driven demand for new library
communication channels,
there has been

increased in
terest in the use of mobile
tools to promote
interacti
on
, expand outreach, market programs,
and enhance the library
experience.

L
ibra
ries
today are at widely differe
nt levels of mobile engagement, a gap poised to

grow as

mobile device

adoption proliferates and
library
budgets
shrink
or stagnate
.
According to
Library Journal

s
January 2012 Patron Profiles report
Mobile Devices, Mobile Content and Library Apps
(http://www.thedigitalshift.com/research/patron
-
profiles), the Gartner Group

expects U.S. sales
of smartphones to have grown from 67 million in 2010 to 95 million in 2011.


That

s a huge
leap. And the Pew Re
search Center reported in January, 2012, that 19% of American adults have
a tablet or e
-
book reader (Pew Research 2012
)
. When you factor in

t
he outstanding cultural shift
taking place in the way we collectively communica
te and interact with information,

wh
at

s
needed now and what

s realistic for libraries to implement right
a
way

become very different
conversations.

While all libraries strive to deliver timely, effective, and seamless service to their users,
many operate with minimal staffing
and limited fi
nancial resources
,

which inhibit
s

chances to
take even mode
rately

innovative risks. However, e
ven if you

re still learning about wh
ich

mobile
services are right
for your library community, it

s necessary to be aware of

the opportunities
presented
by mobile

interactivity

and develop a mobile strategy for your library
.

Mobile users seeking access to library services and collections expect to find what they
need readily available. Early adopters are now adept at navigating the mobile information
experience,
wh
ile
fledgling users rely on those

delivering the information to anticipate their
needs. What they

re actually finding
varies widely. They may discover

concise library mobile
W
eb

sites and mobile
-
searchable catalogs
and
straightforward SMS reference service
s
. Or, they
may find

mobile
-
social communities via Facebook and Twitter;
advanced, complex apps, or

value
-
added mobile services (examples include
QR codes, augmented reality, place
-
based digital
collections,
and
research guides
)
.

At some libraries, they may find
no mobile services at all.

A mobile strategy should encompass the broadest range of library services,
like
those
mentioned

mobile
W
eb

site
s
,

on
line catalogs, reference services
,

access to collections

and
more:
community in
formation,
events

and programs,
room reservations,
course materials,

and

a
full suite of

pat
ron account management

features
,
such as

renewals,
holds,
fine payments,
virtual
bookshelf,
and self
-
checkout
. Consider

how existing service offerings translate to
the mobile
environment
, and remember that n
ot everything needs to be mobile
-
accessible
immediately
.
I
dentify

the

key priorities that can be met in the short
-
term on a short budget and s
et a

fo
undation
for future development
.
Next, work on defining the meth
ods and milestones for establishing
quality service
transactions

with customers across these new delivery methods and platforms.

The M
-
Libraries wiki
(http://www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=M
-
Libraries) offers a wealth of
information about libraries experimenting with and implementing mobile services, which may be
helpful
when

settings benchmarks for your institution.

Once the services, methods, and
benchmarks are determined, c
reating

a
patron
relationship management

(PRM)

plan ensures that mobile library communications align with
existing services, represents the vision and goals of the institution,
and maximizes

the
efficiencies and opportunities of

the technology. Mobile PRM tools offer integrated solutions to
help libraries meet

the

key

priorities, as well as
obtain and assess feedback

and strengthen
customer relationships.

Mobile platforms
that offer

two
-
way communication, direct interaction
betwe
en

patrons and library staff, and archived messaging

m
aintain continuity

and context

and
encourage

repeat
ed

conversation via mobile

devices
.


A study of the Text
-
a
-
Librarian statistics at Southern Connecticut State University, where
I implemented and manag
ed SMS reference from 2010
-
2011,
foun
d
a 60/40 split between
reference and non
-
reference mobile interactions.
Non
-
reference inquiries
included

questions
about
building hours and
holiday schedules
and

library technology and equipment,
as well as

direct requests
about

contact
ing

subject librarians
and

feedback about services and spaces.

Such

inquir
i
es are potential springboards to
launch
f
urther conversation, offering new prospects for
improving point
-
of
-
need
patron satisfaction and
amassing quali
tative data for future assessment.

By promoting direct, responsive communication via text messaging, libraries can both
assess and address the mobile information needs of their unique customer base.
Moreo
ver, as
more libraries provide mobile offerings, exp
ect these types of non
-
reference communications
from mobile users to increase. Libraries need a better way to manage these interactions
effectively and assist patrons for whom text
-
message communication is the preferred point of
contact. Mobile PRM expands

upon the SMS reference concept to combine marketing, outreach,
and interaction to meet a broader need for information services beyond the basic reference
inquiry. In addition,
Mobile PRM

is applicable and relevant to
a

wide range of mobile library
users,
as users can use any type of mobile phone

(not only Smartphones)

to send or receive texts.

Libraries seeking to establish an action plan for assessing and implementing appropriate
mobile PRM strategies can work with vendor partners, library peers, and info
rmation technology
consultants to plan both short
-
term and long
-
term solutions.
For example,
Text a Librarian
(
http://textalibrarian.com/
) and Fanggle (
http://fanggle.com
) are currently marketing two
-
way
SMS

communications
among their mobile products for l
ibraries.


Together, key mobile services, a functional mobile strategy
,

and defined PRM goals
provide a solid footing for building up mobile offerings as skills, budget, and priorities allow.
This is all still new technology
,

and even for mobile
-
proficient

users
, next
-
generation devices
and new applications with increased functionality and complexity continue to vex and inspire.
We

re in a time of constant development, advancement, and growth, and mobile culture has
widespread, cross
-
industry implications.
Furthermore, expanding public interest in mobile
services, including access to e
-
books and digital content, is fueling controversy related to digital
publication, distribution, and licensing for libraries, publishers, vendors, and organizations of all
type
s.

More interest in mobile services means more incoming mobile questions.


Mobile technologies and related developments in the mobile
-
social information
environment are driving force
s

for innovation today

in all markets
. Libraries can and should
be
actively seeking ways
to
u
s
e mobile technologies within the context of their organizational
priorities and community needs
.
This column will

continue to examine mobile strategy related to
advanced mobile services.

Learning

about the changes that are tak
ing place in the mobile sphere
and consider
ing

how mobile technologies, new communication channels, and PRM methods
support the
objectives of
libraries today is a critical

next step
.


References

Pew Research Center. 2012. “
Tablet and E
-
Book Reader Ownershi
p Nearly Double Over the
Holiday Gift
-
Giving Period
.”
Accessed February 29, 2012.
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2176/tablet
-
computers
-
ebook
-
readers
.


This is a preprint submitted for consideration in the
Journal of Web Librarianship
,
copyright 2012, Taylor &

Francis. The
Journal of Web Librarianship

is available online at:
http://www.informaworld.com.