Researching M-Libraries

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As developing M-libraries services is a fairly new idea, researching how effective they are or what users want from them is even newer.

This page is a space to discuss research methods and examples of research into m-library services in order to share practice and support one another in this burgeoning area.

The ideas below were generated by participants in a workshop on Researching M-Libraries held at the Second International M-Libraries conference.

Research Methods

  • Action research evolves as practice happens; responds to real time and life occurrences
  • Sponsored use programmes offer low cost access to equipment but what of vested interests?
  • Case studies - highly individual. Of limited value beyond the contexts that generate them?
  • Video/audio diaries exploit affordances of the mobile tools but can simply become performances?

See posters on Qualitative and Quantitative research methods developed by Anne Hewling.


  • Involve participants in the design of the research & road-testing
  • Analysis of existing data (e.g. search logs; equipment ownership statistics)
  • Surveys – online/print/voice - must be clearly worded and take account of local language and culture
  • Equipment/user tracking

Possible Issues

Please add tips from your own experience

Reasons to be cheerful

  • Sample population could also be used to comment on behaviours of non-users (their peers)
  • Paper form used outside coffee shop (Tim Hortons) with incentive of $1 gift certificate resulted in a good –sized sample of a mix of people. Anecdotally seemed to be more successful than a draw for an iPod.

Things to be aware of

  • Value of researching information-seeking habits (what do we really learn?)
  • Speed of change
  • Have we defined mobile? What is mobile device?
  • Privacy issues

Example Projects

These were generated by workshop participants at the Second International M-Libraries Conference. Please add your own examples to help others learn when particular methods are appropriate.

Problems and prospects of m-libraries development in Bangladesh

  • Joint research project between developing country and Bangladesh.
  • Could outsource the development of the survey.
  • Sample mobile users what they thing of possible services – examples, government services notices, weather notification for fishermen
  • Survey would need to be voice and in local language.

How to deliver surveys as Users' Interest Surveys

  • What devices users have and want
  • Using IT dept and registrations data for campus no.s of laptops
  • Health sector – intranet not internet. Have need to make own versions of Google Analytics.
  • Privacy issues - collect but don’t look at.
  • What actually produces changes in behaviour & does it improve learner care?
  • Issue – speed of change

Example posters of search – what do folks look for?

  • Analysis of search logs.
  • Top 1000 search terms
  • Mobile user vs. users – differences, overlap
  • Mobile delivery (endpoint) vs. mobile discovery (tool)