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Public library mobile apps in Scotland : views from the local authorities and the public

Kerr, Alan and Pennington, Diane (2017) Public library mobile apps in Scotland : views from the local authorities and the public. Library Hi Tech. ISSN 0737-8831 (In Press)

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this research was to examine current public library apps in Scotland and assess Scottish public library users’ opinions of those apps. Design/methodology/approach – Two qualitative and quantitative surveys were conducted. One survey was distributed to each Scottish Local Authority, the entities responsible for public libraries in7 Scotland. The second survey was made available to the public. The results were analysed with nonparametric statistics and content analysis. Findings – All 32 Authorities responded. Seventeen Authorities had an app, two had one in development, and 13 had none. Offering an alternative means of communication to patrons was the main reason for providing an app, while cost and low priority were the main reasons provided against app provision. Authorities were satisfied with the core services offered in their apps, but less so with others. No Authorities had consulted the public regarding app provision. The public (n=185), while satisfied with current library apps, criticised the complex procedures required to access external services. Patrons from Authorities without an app stated interest in apps. Practical implications – It is vital for public libraries to implement at least core services that are optimised for mobile devices. They should consult with the public before and throughout the development process to ensure they are happy with the implementation. Originality/value – This is the first known study to explore public library app use in Scotland as well as one of the first in public library app use worldwide.