291_BR_Costello

Book Reviews

Mobile Technology and Academic Libraries: Innovative Services for Research and Learning. Robin Canuel and Chad Crichton, eds., for the Association of College and Research Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association. 2017. 284p. $68.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-8879-4). LC 2017-02-8063.

Providing content, collections, and services to mobile users is increasingly important in contemporary libraries. In Mobile Technology and Academic Libraries: Innovative Services for Research and Learning, Robin Canuel and Chad Crichton curate a collection of practical case studies of libraries adapting technologies, piloting new initiatives, and building new tools to meet the needs of mobile users. This volume is oriented toward academic libraries but is diverse within this constraint. Canuel is the Head of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library at McGill University, and Crichton is a Liaison Librarian at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Both have presented and published on the use of mobile technologies in libraries. The case studies come from academic institutions, but the selection features libraries of different types, including research libraries, archives, law libraries, and health sciences libraries. The volume also includes examples from functional units across the library, including public services, collections, web services, and instruction.

Book cover for Mobile Technology and Academic Libraries

The volume provides a holistic narrative about the current and potential future uses of mobile in libraries. The book features an inclusive vision of mobile technologies that includes smartphones, tablets, and wearables like smartwatches, technology-enhanced glasses, and fitness trackers. Each case study in the book features coherent organization for the project, and the table of contents is suborganized to include section headings within the chapters for easy reference. Many of the chapters feature sections devoted to challenges, considerations, and lessons learned in the process of accomplishing a project. This feature may be especially helpful for libraries choosing among several potential mobile technology projects. Some chapters include charts or images that are clear and adequate. The book features seventeen chapters focusing on the spectrum of mobile technology integration; it does not contain an index.

The chapters are loosely grouped in the volume around topics. The first three chapters orient the subject, focusing on evaluating mobile technologies and providing library information through mobile channels. The next four chapters focus on mobile technologies as a teaching tool in different contexts and with different groups of learners including medical students, archive users, and students who may be new to the library. The next group focuses on mobile technologies for conducting research and for collection building and assessment. The final group explores unique mobile projects and ideas about the future of mobile technology including the beacon-based roaming reference project at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, augmented reality, wearables, and gamification.

Many institutions are currently in the process of adapting, designing, and testing sites for mobile, integrating mobile app content into information literacy instruction and learning, and providing resources via mobile. Many of the featured case studies focus around these practical topics, but the book also presents an in-depth look beyond, toward mobile technologies that may be part of regular service for libraries in the future. The last four chapters, focusing on gamification, augmented reality, virtual reality, and wearable technologies represent innovations in the field of mobile technologies. Most libraries are not actively pursuing projects in these areas, but they already represent trends in mobile technology outside of libraries and are likely to become more important and relevant to the work of libraries in the future.

Mobile Technology and Academic Libraries features many practical ideas for integrating mobile technologies into library functions and service. The ideas presented range from more accessible projects like using freely available app content in information literacy courses to much more technical projects like proximity beacons and building mobile sites. This book is appropriate for academic librarians looking to integrate mobile technology into their libraries and is suitable for a wide range of positions, focuses, and technical abilities. The projects feature both libraries with development teams and those that integrated existing mobile technologies into their practice. While the volume does not necessarily represent all the ways libraries are using mobile technologies, most librarians will find ideas for how to expand or deepen their practice.

This book provides a diverse and grounded orientation to the work surrounding mobile technologies in academic libraries and also manages a look into the potential future of this work. The book clearly demonstrates that libraries have an opportunity in mobile technologies to become more accessible, more useful, and more integrated into the lives of their patrons. For academic librarians, this also means helping our students and faculty members study, engage, and research in new spaces and situations. This book is recommended for academic libraries with emerging or established mobile programs. Libraries wishing to expand their services and content for mobile users, with or without in-house development teams, will find many achievable ideas in this volume.—Laura Costello, Stony Brook University

Copyright Laura Costello


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