by Gabriel Rios, University of Alabama, Birmingham

Mobile devices are another way to get content into the hands of our patrons.

Types of mobile devices – PDAs/Smart Phones, Cell phones, ipods, MP3 players, tablet PCs

PDAs are often required in nursing and medical school programs. More and more doctors are starting to use the Blackberry (used for e-mail and scheduling). Palm OS operating system has the most software available for it and 60% market share.

You may be surprised what content users want to access in such a small format.

These days, people want a device that does everything.

Services libraries can provide: start a PDA user group (library is neutral space). Host a PDA/Technology Fair (makes the library a visible player in tech).

Should the library provice tech support? No. They should provide application support and be very explicit about what support they do and don’t provide. Gabriel thinks students should bring their own card for syncing their device and that the library should not try and provide all the different kinds. Infrared is another way of sharing content. Libraries can offer training on choosing a PDA, choosing software for it, etc.

Web access allows for just in time downloads of content and integration into workflow.

The library can provide content through a variety of ways: Web clippings, journal club, Avantgo Channels, alert services, etc.

Texting is super popular among young people. Southeast Louisiana University offers text messaging reference, but students must text to Australia because that is where the service (Altarama) is located. How it works: student sends a textt message, text message goes to Australia, text message converted to e-mail, e-mail sent to library, librarian opens and responds and e-mail goes to server in Australia and is converted back into txt. Curtin University also offers txt messaging reference, but they get many questions that are either silly or too open ended to be limited in length.

Convergence – Gabriel used to have a PDA and a cell and he began to feel like he had a batman-esque toolbelt. Convergence means that we are moving towards having many of our applications available in one simple tool.

Conclusions: Mobile technology is here to stay. Young people use them A LOT! Mobile technologies are another means for pushing content to users. We need to meet our users where they are. Don’t choose really device-dependent formats.