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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > May 2009

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Vol. 29 No. 5 — May 2009
In the Palm of Their Hand
by Dick Kaser

Janet Balas opens her column this month by reminding us that “mobile libraries” used to be bookmobiles. It should be clear from the cover of this issue that the “mobile-ized library” we’re talking about this month is something quite different. Put simply, it’s the library in the hip pocket of information users, as readily accessible as a Google search box at the moment when a reference service is needed.

While some of our writers observe that they haven’t seen a great hue and cry from patrons for access to library resources from cell phones or other handheld devices, it may just be a matter of time. Regardless of where you are on the curve, this issue will help you understand where the technology stands now and how you can use it for achieving your library’s overarching goals.

Much of the issue has been devoted to showing you what various OPACs look like on three popular platforms: the BlackBerry, the iPhone, and Windows Mobile compatible devices. Samuel Liston lets you see how three popular ILS systems (SirsiDynix, Innovative Interfaces, and AquaBrowser) look on today’s handhelds.

In other features, Lorette Weldon explains how to use various Google tools to create your own “electronic library assistant,” accessible 24/7. And consultant Sarah Milstein discusses how you and your library can benefit by being a part of the Twitter trend and embracing microblogging.

Though it’s not exactly “on theme,” I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to observe a most interesting library focus group, sponsored by the Society for Scholarly Publishing and conducted by an independent consultant for an assembly of primary journal publishers. The free-form discussion among the librarians ran the gamut from budget cuts to purchasing decisions with all things digital in between. It was, in a word, riveting. So I’ve included a couple of pages of notes for you.

If you attend SLA’s centennial celebration in Washington, D.C., in June, please stop by the ITI booth. My fellow editors and I will be blogging the conference at

Dick Kaser, Executive Editor


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