How would students design the mobile library if they were in charge? That was the question posed to to the competitors in the 2013 Library Mobile App Competition.
In February 2013, six teams of undergrads competed to design innovative mobile apps for the University Library. The teams collaborated with library service providers and mobile designers to investigate actual student needs for library resources on-the-go. They presented their findings in the form of a mobile app mock-up, which detailed new and innovative ways in which students might incorporate library services and resources into their academic lives. The design competition was supported by an IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) and the library innovation fund.
The goals of the competition were to identify potential student needs for mobile applications and location-specific access to library data. The competition provided students a chance to earn some prize money, but, more importantly, it gave them an opportunity to develop, design and present a plausible solution to a real-world client. Unlike many of their class experiences in which the client is entirely hypothetical, the library has real needs, and the ideas developed by each team had the potential to be implemented and generate actual services.
More than one of the teams thought the space provided by the library to study and collaborate with other students were important resources. The mobile apps designs presented not only informed students of available study locations, but also had the ability to allow class-mates to "check in" to a study location so fellow students can find them. One app design even featured a noise-o-meter to inform students of noisy or quiet study locations.
Quickly finding course reserves and other class materials was also a design theme. The student competitors envisioned apps that would tie into registration information so a student could quickly find material related to enrolled classes. Additionally the idea of scanning a book's barcode while in the book store could inform students of other places the material is available.
Experts in library services, intellectual property and information technology judged the competition. The three judges who volunteered and were key to the sucsess of the competition are: