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David Lee King: App advisory at the library

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I'd guess that a large percentage of your library patrons own and use smartphones. I'll also guess that your library probably has a handful of smartphone apps for different library services and databases. Let's combine those two ideas into what I'll call "app advisory at the library".

Image: David Lee KingDavid Lee King

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.

He speaks internationally about emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media, and has been published in many library-related journals. David is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

His newest book is Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections.

David blogs at

Read David's other articles…

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There are at least two ways to help library patrons with app advisory: listing yours, and sharing others. Let's look at each of these ideas.

Listing your apps

Your library's website should clearly list all library-related apps. How do you get that list of apps? Think through the mobile services your library has, and you will end up with a list of apps. Most likely, your list will include:

  • eBooks and Audiobooks (Overdrive and OneClick Digital)
  • Videos (Hoopla, IndieFlix) Magazines (Zinio and Flipster)
  • ILS (Boopsie, Bookmyne, Bibliocommons)
  • Music (Freegal and Hoopla)
  • Databases (Mango Languages, Reference USA, or Cengage's Access my Library

On your Apps page, include a short description of each app/library service, and point to the app in both the Apple and Android app stores. Spokane Public Library's Library Apps page is a great example of how to do this.

Image: App advisorybanner.

Sharing useful apps

The second idea takes the concept of "app advisory" a little further. Why stop at helping customers download Overdrive to get your books? Why not also suggest the best productivity app, the best calendar app, or a handy photography app? The most popular game of 2015?

We're librarians – we already do "stuff" advisory really well. We share good books, videos, and articles. We help people answer questions and solve problems of all types.

Why not also help our library patrons discover useful mobile apps to meet their needs?

App advisory at the library can really help your growing base of smartphone-using customers. Don't ignore this group! Instead, embrace them by actively helping them use your library and their own devices.

They will love you for it!