March 28, 2011

Hennepin County Library goes mobile

Hennepin County Library just unveiled a new mobile app for smartphones. The app is free of charge. hclib mobile is compatible with most smartphones, including Android, Blackberry, J2ME, Palm OS, Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, and iPhone.

With the Library's app, you can access many online services, including:

· do fast catalog searches with minimal keystrokes
· access library "My Account" functions such as renewing and reserving items
· find hours and library locations
· check the events and classes calendar
· see new title lists
· ask questions via phone, chat, or email
· connect to Hennepin County Library on social networks sites such as Facebook and Twitter

To download the mobile app, go to or follow the link from the Library's home page.
The mobile application is funded by the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA). If you have any questions about the app or how to install it, go online to

December 14, 2010

QR Code Generator

Check out the ELM Portal's QR Code!

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July 1, 2010

The Portable Reference Library

If you're interested in learning more about mobile reference services in libraries, consider spending a little time with Alec Sonsteby of Metro State. Alec knows a lot about mobile and he is mid-way through a set of Minitex-hosted webinars on the topic. Those sessions are all full, but if you weren't able to secure a spot you can view a recorded version of the show right here: The Portable Reference Library: Accessing Reference Resources and Services on Mobile Devices. As with all of our recorded webinars made via the Live Meeting software, this webinar is best viewed using the Internet Explorer browser.

February 24, 2009

Mobile Web 2009 = Desktop Web 1998


Mobile Web 2009 = Desktop Web 1998

Mobile phone users struggle mightily to use Web sites, even on high-end devices. To solve the problems, Web sites should provide special mobile versions.

Usability test participants recently attempted to use Web sites on their mobile phones. What a cringeworthy experience—for both users and researchers. In terms of the user experience quality, it was like stepping into a time machine for a quick trip back to 1998. The similarities were numerous:

  • Abysmal success rates. Users fail more often than they succeed when using their mobiles to perform tasks.

  • Download times dominate the user experience. Most pages take far too long to load.

  • Scrolling causes major usability problems.

  • Bloated pages hurt users. Users are frequently stumped by big images or long pages that bury the items they want to see.

  • Unfamiliarity with a browser's user interface limits the user's options.

  • JavaScript crashes and problems with advanced media types, such as video.

  • Reluctance to use Web sites on the mobile for many tasks, especially true of shopping. According to participants, m-commerce has a dark future unless sites improve and earn users' trust.

  • Old-media design. Sites are designed as desktop Web sites, and that's the wrong media form for mobile use.

Testing found three distinct classes of mobile user experience, which are mainly defined by screen size:

  • Regular cellphones with a tiny screen. These devices account for the vast majority of the market (at least 85 percent in some statistics).

  • Smartphones, in a range of form factors, typically with a mid-sized screen and a full A-Z keypad.

  • Full-screen phones (mainly the iPhone) with a nearly device-sized touchscreen and a true GUI driven by direct manipulation and touch gestures.

For the best user performance, different Web sites should be designed for each mobile device class—the smaller the screen, the fewer features and the more scaled back your design. The very best option is to go beyond browsing and offer a specialized downloadable mobile application for the most devoted users. In practice, however, only the biggest and richest sites can afford all this extra work on top of their desktop-optimized Web sites.