Access 2012 Day 3: Session Notes

Out with the Desk: Re-Shaping Service Delivery in Libraries

Marc Pillon

Challenges facing public libraries:

  • perceived as inconvenient/impractical in today’s digital world
  • budgets are shrinking
  • patrons expect a different service


  • bring the library to them e.g. Tim Horton’s, Loblaws, Shoppers

Vision for Public Libraries in the 21st Century

  • convenience! = ‘cutting the cord’ to service
  • being able to deliver them anytime, anywhere
  • less traditional bricks-and-mortar
  • more locations for drop off, pick up, access to technology
  • partner with existing retail outlets

Library in a Box

Gave access to ILS with small computer.


  • access to ILS anywhere
  • small enough to carry anywhere
  • limited only by wireless signal


  • not easy to transport, bulky/heavy
  • complicated setup requiring IT support

Introducing CanGURU

Using Apple iPhone and Bluetooth barcode scanner. iPad and wifi receiver

  • highly portable, light weight, easy to use
  • made inexpensive by using consumer products that are readily available
  • can be easily replicated by other libraries
  • used externally and internally (getting rid of information desk)
  • highlights important of librarian (return to reader’s advisory, roving to enhance customer service)
  • collaboration with social services, parks and recreation, and other non-profit organizations


  • 3G or wifi for connectivity
  • VPN (Cisco AnyConnect) for authenticated access to internal network
  • RDP protocol for access to ILS software
  • client device suh as iPad or notebook
  • bluetooth barcode scanner
  • custom iOS software (uses protocol to talk to ILS)

Future Improvements

  • faster wifi
  • streamline connectivity process
  • self-check version for iPad
  • patron version for self-check
  • implement SIP3 options
  • integrate with RFID
  • porting to android and/or Windows 8 tablet

Where should Libraries Locate?

  • big box stores/large retail centres
  • coffee shops
  • train stations/airports
  • hospitals
  • parks
  • university/college campus

One Example: Fraser Valley Regional

Encapsulated technology in a car with public computers, books, check in/out, etc.

Another Example: University of Alberta has an embedded Edmonton Public Library branch.

Shaping the User Experience

Sonya Betz and Robert Zylstra


A lot of different web interfaces:

  • library website
  • libguides
  • ILL
  • OPAC
  • etc.

Can get 3-4 different interfaces just doing a simple look up and placing a hold on book. Users find it too difficult to find things and so much time is spent trying to train users to use them all, but it’s a losing battle.

Had no mobile interface either.


Virtual Services Integration Project

  • simplify access to library resources
  • provide access via all devices
  • provide common experience between platforms

First was mobile version (iOS App) and full-scale web (responsive design).

Key Concepts

  • one access point replacing multiple access points
  • mobile and desktop interfaces
  • user aware
  • fast and intuitive access
  • consistent and intuitive experience

Project Motto

Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast

Using Web Servies APIs

Integrating Services (e-Reserve, room booking) and Resources (Physical, electronic, etc.). Also has EDS.

My Account: Authentication to App using LDAP, which send tokens to everything in the App to simulate single sign-on.

Search: uses EDS API, which allows limiters. Can then share through mail, print, copy, dropbox, etc. Holdings details from ILS.

Library info: from website.

Featured Lists: new materials using ILS

At Present

Consolidated 3 separate spaces of library info, search, and account.


  • MusicBrainz
  • citations
  • Alexander Street Press (streaming audio and video)
  • Favourites
  • shared folders
  • library maps
  • barcode scan

Mobile App is a pilot for the CMS. App infrastructure will serve as basis for CMS. CMS and App will share user preference and content.


  • public press release
  • website
  • posters
  • instructional sessions (provided premade screen)
  • etc.

Worked with communications department.

More notes on Access 2012 Live Blog.

Code4lib Day 2: Mobile Breakout Notes

Just a few notes if anyone is interested:

  • digital collections tool: wolf walk, digital images
    • geolocation using JavaScript to make it availble in HTML5
    • find it easier in app store, means more people use app
  • HTML5 more clunky with jQuery mobile
  • native app smoother, especially Google Maps
  • mobile site: only force on homepage and opt out using query string
  • mobile app/site needs to be interoperable
  • designing: mobile framework better at bringing out ideas vs. developing web version of a website
  • how do you build up services? concentrate on what is needed on mobile devices
  • should have just what you need and do it well while taking advantage of mobile aspects e.g. bluetooth, GPS
  • how best to build?: REST layer on top of what’s available
  • time resource: if know objective C, then just adding functions
  • voice use: comfort level? accurate enough? difficulty with quiet/study areas/floors?
  • phone tap to reserve seats/room, other application?
  • staff use in stacks? Shelflister: barcode scanner inserts into web form for shelf reading or collection development, including circulation data
  • mobile hours: just give today’s hours or closed (give tomorrow’s hours)

Code4lib Day 1: Kill the Search Button II – The Handheld Devices are Coming

by Michael Poltorak Nielsen, Statsbiblioteket/State and University Library, Aarhus, Denmark

Current Mobile Interaction Paradigm

You do a lot with your hands, everyday. Our hands are a really good tool, but currently, the handheld interaction is based on glass. That is you do functions by sliding your fingers, which means there is no feedback on what it does, i.e. it’s not intuitive.

Take a look at Pictures Under Glass: Transitional Paradigm dictated by technology, not human capabilities by Bret Victor.

An Alternative

  • direct manipulation
  • gesture driven
  • palpable
  • tactile

Smartphone Gestures

The near future may mean combining something like the Wiimote and the iPhone.

Mobile Projects

The idea was to build an HTML5 app that searches library data, favourites, view own items, renew, and request. Currently in beta, but to be published soon.

The search app can be augmented with gestures, gestures combined with multi-touch interactions.

Possible interactions with focus on

  • keyboard – typing
  • microphone speech
  • screen – touch, visuals
  • camera – pattern, movement
  • accelerometer – acceleration
  • gyroscope – rotation
  • compass  – direction
  • GPS – movement, position


Might include simple ones using accelerometer data, including

  • tilt
  • flip
  • turn
  • rotate
  • shake
  • throw

The problem is that gestures are only really supported by Firefox, and partially supported by Chrome. Thus, it was decided that development would move to the native iPhone app environment with gestures, and HTML5 web app without gestures (but possibly later when supported). Features that are implemented include:

  • Restart search – face down
  • Scroll – tilt up and down
  • Switch views – tilt
  • Request items – touch and tilt left
  • Favourites – touch and tilt right

Check out the demo:


  • no standard mobile gestures
  • gesture maybe individual
  • gesture may not be appropriate at all
  • sophisticated gestures are hard to code
  • Objective-C

Augmented Library – Access 2011 Hackfest

So today at Access 2011, it’s hackfest, with ~60-70 people, quite big!

I decided to work on the augmented library topic with 5 others. We discussed two different software products out there at the moment and possible implimentations.


Layar allows for mobile app development using GPS/Geolocation to provide more information and image recognition to make things/the environment more interactive. Layar is available on the Apple app store and Android.

Advantages: Drupal module, centralized database to search for all layars

Disadvantage: not available on iPod Touch (presumably not on iPad either).


Developed by Georgia Tech, Argon allows mobile app development using KML for more information based on GPS/Geolocation.


  • open source
  • works on iPod Touch


  • in development (can be buggy)
  • non-centralized (need exact link)
  • only available on iOS products (Android in development, but no timeline)

Possible Implementations

  • shelf/branch location of item
  • scan book covers to bring up book info, reviews/ratings, etc. – would work better in public library setting
  • polls
  • locate subject area, maps displaying subject areas
  • reference/info desk locator
  • interactive pop up e.g. what user wants to do, scan room number for booking system


Some Thoughts

I think the ideal would really be to create a mobile app that helps the user do just about everything. Wayfinding, searching, find general information (such as hours), find item information (including reviews/ratings), find availability to computers, etc.

What was interesting about the discussions we had was talking about how best might it be implemented with the technology that we have today. Apparently, the University of Illinois developed an app that tells users where to find an item on the shelf using signal strength positioning, but we could imagine it going very wrong especially around a lot of metal shelving. Would it be better to not have it at all than to direct a user to the wrong place? I imagine many would say yes.

Obviously, there are pros and cons to every method, but I think I concluded that if you were to develop a mobile app with the technology we currently have without spending an enormous amount of time on it, the app would work better with image recognition (something a la layar vision or QR codes) combined with input from the user.

For example, if a user wanted to find books on a particular subject, an app would ask what subject the user would like to find, then use GPS to direct them to the branch (for multi-branch campuses) if applicable, then once in the branch, it would pop up a mini-map for the user directing them to that particular subject on the shelf. If at any time they get lost, they just need to scan the appropriate image and the app could come up with a new mini-map providing a path from their current position to the shelf with the subject they’re looking for.

The advantages of a dynamic path map versus real-time positioning is that positioning technology is still not very accurate, and most users will not give apps more than one or two chances before deciding whether it’s useful or not.

Hopefully we can get the layar one public and then rather than simply showing a short video, we can have people try the app themselves.

Link: Googledoc Notes, screenshots, and code