In recent years following the rise in popularity of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, new delivery options for web based catalogues have developed. Broadly these options fall into three main categories:
- Traditional web based catalogues on which the pages have been optimised for delivery on smaller screens in addition to normal PCs
- Separate mobile versions of web based catalogues on which simplified compact versions of web pages have been created for access by phones or tablets.
- User installed catalogue applications (apps) developed by library management system vendors or library IT departments. These are often customised web clients optimised for use on smaller devices and potentially distributed via general app stores such as Google Play or iTunes.
A full discussion of the pros and cons of such options is beyond the scope of this site but it should be acknowledged that as increasing numbers of users access the web via non-PC devices, their utility is likely to increase. NBAs wishing to offer mobile access should first investigate whether their ILS vendor can offer a suitable solution since this is likely to be the most cost effective option in terms of both development and support costs. If this is not available the ILS vendor may be able to offer details of their system’s “application programming interface” (API) to enable the NBA to develop a custom application. However this may involve the NBA committing significant ongoing resources to a regular development upgrade path due to the rapidly evolving nature of mobile communications.