Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Library "Apps for That"

Library “Apps for That”
by Kam McEvoy from Central Texas Library System

Are you looking for some resources to offer your on-the-go patrons with mobile devices? Or are you a free-range reference librarian who needs access to the databases without being tethered to the desk?

Here are some mobile apps to consider for your iPhone, Blackberry, Android, iPod Touch (it uses a wi-fi connection and runs apps like an iPhone – perfect for the library to buy and use as the on-duty reference tool), etc.:

1. Gale’s Access my Library app -
Gale created this free iPhone/iPod application to help people use library resources by detecting physical library branches within a 10-mile radius of the user on demand and using a web product to connect people to the Gale online resources that their local libraries subscribe to. The app is downloadable from or from the iTunes store. You can promote this in your library with marketing materials or place it on your website. Through TexShare, your patrons should be getting Health and Wellness Resource Center, Literature Resource Center, and InfoTrac Custom Newsletters at the very least.

2. EBSCOhost Mobile is EBSCO’s answer to the Gale app. It can be accessed at: or (not through the iTunes app store). EBSCOhost Mobile has the following features available: Basic Searching, HTML and PDF Full Text, Search Modes, Limiters, Image Quick View, Image Collection
(depending on the database that has been selected), E-mailing articles, Preferences, Multi-database Searching, and Branding. These are free to access if you set up a user account at the library ahead of time or are using it in the library.
Again, TexShare gets your patrons a subscription to a ton of EBSCO databases.

3. WorldCat Mobile App can be accessed through the iTunes store, or type this URL into your phone's Web browser: You can:
• Search for library materials—Enter search terms such as keywords, author or title
• Find a WorldCat library near you—Enter your ZIP, postal code or location in the Libraries Locator
• Call a library—Highlight and click the phone number in a library listing to place a call
• Map a route—Find the fastest way to a WorldCat library using the mapping software already on your device
4. Other Reference Tools to Consider:
• Wikipedia Mobile – no, it’s not Britannica, but it’s convenient and comprehensive – a good starting point for many patrons.
• WhitePages Mobile for people and business search
• Basic Spanish for Dummies – this one costs 99 cents, but its Spanish-English dictionary might come in handy if you are trying to assist Spanish-speaking patrons with limited English and you’re not fluent.
• Meebo – keep in touch with your patrons through instant messaging on your iPod Touch or iPhone
• Check out Shelfari if you haven’t already – a social networking site about books! Here’s the mobile-friendly website:

These are just a few resources, and we will be thinking of more ways to help you and your mobile users, including making our own website mobile-friendly. And please let us know about apps that are useful to you!