Respond to Jocelyn and Lisa to discuss the app challenge!

This post is part of the Atlas book group discussing the Knowledge Thread.

Respond to Jocelyn and Lisa to discuss the app challenge!

Come up with an idea for an app that you think would be useful for
your school or public library. It could be an app for a phone or
something that could be added to a personalized library homepage.
Go wild!

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  • Anonymous

    I would like to see an app in public libraries that lets you know when new/popular books are available. It is time-consuming to have to go to the online catalog and search the book, then find out if the library you are at has the copy available or if it is checked out. Instead it would be easier if there was an app that would alert you to the books you are interested in reading, when they are in at the library.

    • Amy Behr

      Erin – You should see if your library is part of  Basically they send free alerts to you regarding any new book and/or media.  It isn’t an app just yet (at least I don’t think) but you can get it sent to your email or RSS feed if you have a smart phone!  Also, my library back home has implemented “Book News” on their website.  It is super awesome because I can check off the genres and topics that I am interested in and they send me monthly updates via email based on my likes.  Here is the link if you want to check it out!

  • Amy Behr

    I really liked what Jocelyn described in terms of typing in a call number and having it direct you to a book.  I would LOVE a “Library GPS” app in which you could type in the title or call number of the book and  have a sort of Google Maps directional situation.  I also think it would be great if there was a reference interview app.  Basically, there would be a list of question and depending on how a person answered those questions it would direct them to other questions until the item desired was narrowed down.  I know this might be difficult and controversial in terms of making the reference interview involve librarians even less than chat, etc. but it would likely help those members that are afraid to ask a librarian for help for any reason.

    • Erin Lee

      Or indeed it could show people, who are unsure about what sort of thing to ask the reference librarian or the level of question that is common, that reference librarians are there for answering all sorts of questions.  So it could not only solve some questions before the reference interview is necessary but also give people the confidence to approach librarians!

      • Lisa Doyle

        I agree.  Giving them this option might actually help library members feel more comfortable asking for assistance.  Lets say someone has a general question or they are unsure of exactly what they are looking for.  They might feel silly asking or might think that they’d look, for lack of a better term, stupid for not knowing that they’re looking for (even though a good librarian would never think that) .  By giving them this option, they would be able to gather a little more information or  point them in the right direction so they’d feel more comfortable asking for help.

  • Rei Becker

    I think a “community offerings” app would be nice. You could input your zip code after installation, and it would alert you to any new classes, activities or services your local library was offering. You could even make selections at setup for what kind of activities you’re looking for (children’s, adult education, arts & crafts, job resources, etc).

  • Lisa Doyle

    Rei – I love this idea!  Helps get the word out to the community about all the different offerings the library provides.  What do you think about the idea of not limiting it to library related activities and instead opening it up to community activities outside the library as well? 

  • Anonymous

    I love this idea! I definitely think it could be used in conjunction with an actual physical book club meeting, because I know people still like to get together to talk face-to-face about books. But this means that people won’t necessarily have to attend and means that as people can contribute as they want! This could even people used to discuss with people who live in different states, or maybe even internationally! What a cool way to connect with others around the world.

  • Anonymous

    I think a great app would be one similar to Red Laser, the app that Dave was describing in class earlier tonight that allows a user to scan the barcode on a book in order to comparison shop. Instead of prices, the library-friendly version of this app might bring up information about the book like reviews, reading guides, local book clubs, or any other relevant information. Hopefully, this would bring library browsing to the next level.

    • Matthew Gunby

      Related question to all of these apps, particularly the one you mentioned similar to Red Laser: should it be a priority of the library to also make available on the premises either a smart phone or tablet to let people without such technology be able to interact.  It might help make more of the community information literate, as well as create an opportunity for greater interaction with the librarians.  Obviously concerns about cost and security also enter into this conversation, but I think in some poorer communities apps might not have as much appeal, at least not without something to increase their accessibility.

      • Anonymous

        I think this should absolutely be considered. The library I work at has circulating iPads, and it would be cool if it had an non-circulating iPad publicly displayed with library friendly apps loaded onto it. This would hopefully make it easier for patrons to learn about the technology and access the library’s resources from a fresh perspective. 

        • Lisa Doyle

          I think making something like an i-pad with this type of app loaded on it would give people who don’t have access to this technology (due to lack of economic resources or just being technology adverse) a good excuse to use it and become familiar with it.  The library I work for has circulating i-pads as well but they don’t seem to get checked out as much as originally expected.  My theory on this is people who are familiar with and commonly use this type of technology, most likely own one of their own.  Furthermore, people who don’t know what to do on them or don’t have a reason to use them seem to not have much of an interest in checking them out.  If people were given a reason (like the suggested “red laser” type app) to use the technology, I’m sure they’d be a lot more inclined to pick one up and start learning.

  • Anonymous

    I think having an app designed for reader’s advisory would give a librarian the opportunity to have more information and time to make a thoughtful recommendation. If the reader keeps a list of previous books read, and reasons for liking or disliking these book in the app, the librarian can access the information and give suggestions even before the reader comes to the library. I don’t doubt that there are already apps out there that recommend books based on previous reading preferences, but I imagine these are based on statistical purchase information and genre similarities, not necessarily on what the individual likes about the book. Having the librarian on the other end of the app makes it much more personal, and improves the service provided by the librarian because they have the extra time and information.

    • Anonymous

      It also keeps human interaction in the picture. If you know that there is a librarian on the other end who is suggesting books for you, it might your decision to read the book more compelling because you know another person has read it and liked it.

    • Jocelyn Boice

      I think that an app like this has the potential to be very useful.  Many times a library member/patron can’t remember much about things they have read in the past, and having access to that information would make reader’s advisory much easier and more likely to be successful.  At the very least, you could avoid suggesting things that they have already read!  I know several people who currently keep track of their reading using spreadsheets, and something like this would take the next logical step. 

  • Ben Chartoff

    Since we had four “mini” threads, our group had an
    interesting opportunity to observe how conversations evolve (how appropriate to
    the chapter!) from four different seed values.


    The conversation theory discussion thread started off with
    some interesting comments on the “hard” theories in the chapter, but really
    took off when the discussion shifted towards the means by which library patrons
    can give feedback, and how libraries should respond to the feedback.


    The discussion on knowledge creation didn’t go as far as we
    wanted but it definitely sparked a conversation on such an abstract thought! We
    wanted to create a conversation by adding on to what the previous person had
    said, making this creation totally up to the person! The last comment was
    “Especially when you’re unsure of what the quest is….. water guns?”
    Yes the “quest” we created was about water guns but we wanted people
    to create a story which it sort of did! Knowledge creation is not just taking
    artifacts for what they are worth, but by putting them to use and creating a
    better understanding or something completely different, which we tried to
    accomplish here.


    While the app challenge was purely theoretical and fun
    exercise, it did reveal something very interesting.  Most apps tend to be seen as technical applications, not
    social ones.  However, almost all
    of the apps in one way or another helped connect the community with others,
    whether directly like the book club app and the community events one or indirectly
    like the reading recommendation one that’s generated by a librarian (not
    statistics).  The apps did not
    replace the librarian; instead they helped further involve the library in
    people’s lives.


    The scapes conversation didn’t develop far at all (there was
    only one comment, an astute criticism, which we hoped might lead to a spirited
    debate—it did not). We have three possible explanations for the low response rate
    1.) the scapes section of the book was a mix of theory and practical
    applications—respondents who were interested in hard theory responded to the
    conversation theory thread, respondents interested in practice replied to the
    app challenge, so scapes got lost in the middle 2.) not everyone may have read
    the section on scapes, and therefore could not respond (we don’t have any
    preexisting knowledge of scapes to write about) or 3.) the first post disagreed
    with the textbook, and other participants may have been unwilling to enter into
    an argument or even a disagreement.


    Thanks for your responses, everyone, we really enjoyed
    facilitating this conversation!