iPhone for librarians

Last update 11/11/2011 

29/4 Add Ebscohost database
08/6 Added Factiva for iPad
06/11 Added Springerlink 
11/11 Added Heinonline for iPhone & iPad

Got your IPhone recently and want a quick overview of what innovative librarians , library or library vendors have done with IPhone apps? For comparison of library web Apps instead see "What are mobile friendly library sites offering? A survey."

I was in this situation in Dec 2009 and did quite a bit of research, so to save you all time, I offer the following list plus commentary .This is not meant to be a complete guide on what are the best general interest Iphone apps  (typically this involves picking a Twitter client, IM Client, RSS feed reader, online storage service like dropbox etc). Such lists already exist , but rather this is list of apps that are of interest to librarians, or have being used by Librarians in library settings.

I've decided not to link directly to the App store, mainly because the link has to be country specific?, and this blog serves an international audience so there is no one best link. To find the app, just do a search in the appstore with the app name. Do note that in some rare cases (e.g. WorldCat), the app might not be available depending on your location.

Database/vendor apps

These are search apps offered by specific database vendors that make searching such databases on Iphones easier.

AccessMyLibrary (Gale Cengage)  
ACS Mobile ( American Chemical Society publication ) - Not free?
Annual Reviews
DataFinder (World Bank - World Development Indicators) 
Factiva for iPad
iResearch (American Institute of Physics)
Mobileabstracts (PubMed)
Naxos Music Library
New England Journal of Medicine iPhone App 
OECD Factbook 2010
OverDrive Audio Book App/ OverDrive Media Console app
Questia Library
ScienceDirect (Lite) – institutional subscribers version
Scopus Updates
Wiley-Blackwell Journals

Databases that are mobile (web) friendly can be found here.

University/library apps

These are apps that have being created by libraries or universities (with a library related mod), worth taking a look at if you are tasked with creating one.

These are basically mobile iPhone app versions of library webpages. For comparison of mobile friendly websites by libraries (web apps) see this comparison & analysis. For comparison of iPhone library apps vs library web apps see this comparison & analysis.

Library standalone apps

As of April 29 2011, I have stopped updating this section, as the number of libraries with native mobile apps have exploded. Many are using Boopsie, Library Anywhere . Boopsie allows "BookCheck - a new feature that allows library patrons to check out books and other materials using a mobile phone."

Ask-Wa reference (Virtual Reference Cooperative in the State of Washington)
SobekPH dLOC
Treasures - British Library

Library functions part of University IPhone app

(Part of Duke University IPhone app)
Harvard Mobile (Part of Harvard University IPhone app)
(Part of University of Saskatchewan IPhone app)
Northwestern (Part of Northwestern University IPhone app)
MySDmobile (University of San Diego Library)  (Part of University IPhone app, just catalogue)
UR Mobile (Part of University of Rochester app)

Library SG - For Singapore library users
San Francisco Public Library Mobile
UPLA (Search HongKong Libraries)

BookMyne from SirsiDynix - similar to WorldCat's app, but this one works for libraries on SirsiDynix Symphony library management system.
Sony's Library Finder - powered byOverDrive,  you can find public libraries and check out books.
TRACpac - For libraries using Polaris ILS 
Local books - App that can locate closest bookstores and libraries that have an entry on LibraryThing 
YourLibrary for iPad - First iPad Library App by Yellowhead Regional Library

Search related 

What if you want an Iphone app of a database that isn't included above? The next category of apps, allow you to set up custom search engines to use quickly. You can add your library catalogue, custom database searches (with Ezproxy built-in) etc. I've covered this idea here . 

I find myself using this a lot on the go.


Barcode related apps

One interesting idea is to use Iphones as barcode readers. By using the Iphone camera, you can capture  ISBNs, and then send to search for the item in library catalogues, bookstores etc. Similar apps, are those based on capturing the book covers, and recognizing the book (Google Goggles for Android is the most famous example).There are many such apps including snapshot, pic2shop  Snaptell, Kooaba, but they typically send you to Amazon, Google books etc

Below are two apps that allow you to customize the search to be sent to your library catalogue. I've covered this idea here

CardStar - This allows users to store barcodes on their Iphones. Some users are using this for their library cards

Many libraries are experimenting with QR codes, which are 2D barcodes that can encode urls, so users can snap the barcode, and be instantly sent to a url. (see guide ) .This is particularly useful since it's difficult to type in a url in a smartphone. Among many ideas, in theory the online catalogue could generate QRcodes along side barcodes, and users could just snap the qrcode on the screen into their handphones. One could embed Qrcodes to posters, blogs with the appropriate urls encoded.

QRcode readers

QR app
Many more just search for QR code
Tagreader - New Microsoft proposed 2D- Tag

See also Stickybits

Ebook reader app 

Stanza - Also have a look at Calibre

Kindle for iphone - Now allows  ebook checkouts from libraries

Bluefire Readersupport Adobe DRM, so you can open Public Library Books that use that.

Flipboard and Zite  - For reading on iPad

Presentation app

These class of apps can be used to convert your Iphone into a slide controller. Use your Iphone to move slides forward and backwards with one flick! Some apps will allow you to see the next slides and/or your notes, either in split screen or full screen mode.


Personally I think it's between Mypoint or i-Clickr, but the free version of Mypoint is pretty functional, while the free version of i-Clickr is limited to only 15 slides.

Mighty Meeting - This is very interesting app, that allows you to control web presentations using your Iphone.


BlackBoard learn - Use this to keep in touch with assignments posted on the popular courseware

Papers for iPhone - Papers is a popular mac reference manager, but they also have a standalone reference manager that works even if you don't use a mac. The reference manager Wizfolio is planning a iPhone app as well. 

Prowl - Use this for roving librarians who are equipped with Iphones/Itouches, users can summon librarians for help. See here  

Tungle - Use this for scheduling appointments - covered here

Foursquare and other location apps - Libraries are using this to offer prizes to "mayors", Covered here and here  

GoodReader - Tom Boone suggests using this to make it easy to download PDF of articles and to email them.  

Safari to Go (iPad)


Hope this list has being helpful.

Top 30 Library iPhone Apps
Library Success wiki - Also has an excellent section on mobile libraries that goes beyond just Iphone. apps.
Library mobile apps vs web apps - Some analysis
Library Resources for Mobile Devices  - Good Libguide covering academic related mobile sites and apps
Library Mobile Trends - Good overview presentation on Mobile as a whole
Resourceshelf - Reports on library related news including announcements of library apps

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