This chapter describes an innovative implementation of the use of iPad kiosks to blur the lines between physical and virtual library collections. Providence College’s Phillips Memorial Library + Commons began lending iPads to students, faculty, and staff in 2012. In addition to lending the devices, library staff dedicated time to learning about both task-based and subject-based mobile applications that would be of use to our community. A small group of library staff tested, discussed, and vetted a variety of apps that would be deployed on the iPads to be lent out. Efforts were made to promote the use and discovery of various apps on the devices through thoughtful organization of the apps on the devices themselves, programming around applications, and the creation of an online research guide designed to teach more about the apps. Despite these initiatives, assessment data from the iPad lending program collected over the course of five semesters suggests that patrons borrowing the iPads are using them primarily for accessing the Internet (Safari, Chrome, etc.), social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and consuming media (YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, etc.).
With this data in mind, library staff began to think of alternative ways to connect our patrons with useful, content-based, mobile applications. Drawing on research around the Internet of Things and the integration of digital technologies with our physical lives, the Digital Publishing Services Coordinator suggested positioning iPad kiosks strategically within the library’s physical book collection as a means to connect patrons browsing a given area of the stacks with the library’s online resources related to that subject area. The library’s Commons Technology Specialist had experience with iPad kiosks and programming the iPads as he had managed the logistics of the iPad lending program since its inception. Working collaboratively, these colleagues devised a way to image the iPads for public use and load them with subject-specific apps as well as links to library databases and open web resources. The team chose to use Scalar as the primary content management tool for kiosk content. This chapter provides details about the selection and deployment of content for the Theology Kiosk, signage and communications created to attract patrons to the kiosk, and initial data about kiosk use. The piece concludes with a review of the kiosk project and an outline of future planning related to the project (staff time, hardware and software requirements, usability testing, scaling the project, etc.).
Mobile Technology and Academic Libraries: Innovative Services for Research and Learning