by Dick Kaser
This month’s issue of Computers in Libraries magazine falls at the intersection of two persistent trends: the digitization of everything and the ability to access it from anywhere.
The end game? Nothing says it better than our cover, which promises a library in every pocket. We borrowed the expression from two of this month’s authors, Bob Johnson and Ted Gutmann. In their story about developing a mobile app, they report that their project only received a sense of direction and true focus when they started to think of it as being aimed at putting a “library in your pocket.” The result was in fact an app that brings the key functionality of a public library to any user’s remote device.
The two complementary trends of digitization and mobilization, of course, do not only suggest that libraries can now be omnipresent in their user’s lives, but they also imply that libraries can redefine what happens in their physical spaces based on the new content and devices at play. And by no means are these developments limited to public libraries.
When it comes to the combination of pervasive digital content and ubiquitous mobile devices, not even the staid tome-lined legal library is off-limits for innovation, as Avery Le points out in an article about circulating tablets and e-readers to law students.
Everywhere we look, the models are rapidly changing. Universities may have been among the first to offer faculty and students ebooks more than a decade ago, but as the options for how such books are delivered has expanded, academic librarians may want to revisit the options they are providing their patrons. In this issue authors Matthew J. Buckley and Melissa Maria Johnson provide guidance for those who want to support users with portable devices to download ebooks.
No matter whether you work in a public, an academic, or a special library, digitization is combining with mobilization to create a new set of challenges and opportunities. In this issue we put the emphasis on the latter. And so should you.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor