M-libraries: Information use on the move

Keren Mills

The term 'm-library' now refers to library services delivered to, or accessed from, mobile devices such as phones. A literature review of m-library services developed so far by libraries around the world shows that little work has been done in terms of gathering user requirements to find out what sort of library services users would be likely to find useful when they're on the move.

From 2nd February 2009 to 1st May 2009 I am undertaking a project to scope the information requirements of academic library users on the move in order to inform future development of library services to mobile devices. These services could be of particular benefit to students as library users because mobile access to library services could give them greater flexibility to study anywhere at any time. One project undertaken by Student Services at the Open University has shown that students do like to receive alerts and reminders by text message.


The three-month project including

  • mobile diaries by library users - users submit a photo/video showing where they were when they had an information need and comment on what their information need was
  • a review of previous research about how Cambridge and Open University students use mobile technologies
  • a survey of both Cambridge and Open University library users about when people need information on the go, how well their needs are met and what they'd like access to.
  • focus groups with Cambridge and Open University Librarians to scope out possible m-libraries services


  • Proposed service models for both campus-based and distance learning academic libraries.
  • A website making the methodology and results from the project available to other UK Academic Libraries, and allowing them to input their own data and analysis if they choose to run the questionnaire with their own students.
  • A paper to be presented at the M-Libraries conference in June 2009, including an analysis of environmental factors affecting mobile library services, such as cost and availability of institutional text messaging services or mobile broadband, and library user communication behaviours.

Further resources