Taking a look at the library catalogue on smartphones

In a recent post, I examined the need for a true mobile interface, rather than a text-based, simplified view of our new and exciting library catalogues.

While at CLA, I had the opportunity to meet Chad Smith, of Hybrid Forge. His company has developed a library catalogue mobile app for the iPad and iPhone.


Currently, their app, Tracpac, has been built around the Polaris system.

When viewing the app on Chad’s iPad, I was fascinated that this simple, customized mobile site not only provides users with what all of the tools and information they need to successful navigate our catalogue, but that it anticipated additional needs that users (and even some of us) haven’t thought about before. Namely, adding an RA component by pulling in NoveList content into the search results. (Chad, do I have this right?)

The app is free and while I don’t belong to any of the library systems currently enjoying this great feature, I have enough access to play around with the features. And, what I see is exciting me.

Given the above screen shots, we can now compare the “text-based” mobile sites that many of us are currently being offered at leading libraries throughout North America. The examples below are a mix of mobile sites, if available. Otherwise, they are simply screen shots of how their next generation catalogue displays on an iPhone. I want to point out that the library examples I have chosen that are displayed below are far and away better than many other libraries’ sites, which is why I have chosen them. But, it’s good to have visual comparisons, between where we are, and where we can go.


Hmmm…not quite as exciting as we thought they were.

However, I do have to point out that this technology is new and a text-based model is still an improvement over the alternative: which is having no alternatives but the catalogue meant for computer viewing. So, rather than this post discouraging you from adopting a text-based catalogue for mobile devices, look at it as a progression into what we can have, what is coming, and what is available right now. Get excited!



Filed under Discovery tool platforms, Social catalogue, The Library Catalogue

2 responses to “Taking a look at the library catalogue on smartphones

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Taking a look at the library catalogue on smartphones « The Cataloguing Librarian -- Topsy.com

  2. Good to see you at the ALA 2010 conference! Thanks for starting a dialogue on the differences between a mobile website and a native mobile app.

    The small correction I might offer is the integration of the NoveList content. The TracPac app doesn’t yet have the NoveList feature but our recently released iPad app does. YourLibrary is available in the app store at http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/yourlibrary/id373005791

    I quite like the idea of integrating the NoveList content into the search results in some fashion, so you may see that in a future version of the app.

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