4 Signs that Your Community Is Ready for a Library Mobile App

Nov 14, 2018 | Articles

You’ve put a lot of time and effort into offering your community a wealth of resources. You’ve also tried to make your collection as accessible as possible, whether patrons prefer to come to your branches or to explore your website from the comfort of their homes. Now, you’re wondering if there’s more you can do to offer the best possible patron experience — like offering a library mobile app.

If you’re apprehensive about investing resources in a mobile app, it’s understandable! Many libraries are worried about making such a big decision because they’re not quite sure if their community uses mobile apps or would appreciate the value of one offered through their library. Use this handy list of signs to determine if your community is truly ready for a mobile app.

1. You’ve started to notice more people on their smartphones in the library, in the grocery store, in doctors’ offices, in the streets — basically all over town.

This is no Baader-Meinhof phenomenon: The vast majority of Americans do actually own a cellphone of some kind, and most of those devices are smartphones. It’s likely that many of your community members, no matter their ages or socioeconomic backgrounds, use their phones as a way to access information on a daily basis. So if you’ve noticed more and more people in your community using smartphones, it’s a great idea to put your library where your users already are.

2. You know the collection and programming you’ve developed is relevant to your community, but you’re still not seeing the usage or attendance numbers that you’d like to see.

You’ve put in the time to determine what needs your community members have so that you can ensure your books, e-resources, events, and programs meet these needs. Still, people are not accessing your most valuable e-resources or showing up to your events. We can rule out that you’re having a collection development issue, so it may be time to focus on giving patrons easier access to these resources.
Library apps offer a seamless way to gain access to full e-books or other e-resources and give patrons a quick and convenient way to register for events and receive reminders. By making it possible for community members to engage with your library with just a few taps, usage numbers are sure to get a noticeable boost.

3. Your library’s marketing efforts don’t seem to be reaching everyone in your community.

Think of it this way: You wouldn’t post an event flyer on a community board in the local senior center and then feel confident that you’d done all you needed to do to serve your diverse community, would you? The best way to ensure that you’re meeting your community’s range of needs is by diversifying the access methods you offer and the promotional venues that you try. If you haven’t tried a library app before, it might just be the secret to reaching the audiences that you’ve struggled to engage up to this point, as it can offer prime real estate to promote your resources and events to their target audiences.

4. For the most part, people are still only relying on your library as a place to find print books.

Combat the outdated perception that your library is simply a collection of bookshelves by putting your library in the palm of community members’ hands! Don’t get us wrong — obviously, print books are valuable resources to offer, but libraries are also dynamic community hubs. You’ll want to make sure that you’re perceived that way by community members. By offering a mobile app, you can show your community that you’re evolving with their needs and that you’ll be there for them as those needs change.
How many of these signs are apparent in your library and your community? If you’ve experienced any of these indicators, it’s likely that your community is ready for a library mobile app. Your next step is checking with those who would get the most value out of your mobile app — your community! Download our free guide, Get Patrons’ Insight on Your Mobile App Plans, to get tips on everything from choosing a survey tool to distributing your survey to your community members.

Kayla Fargo

As Demco Software's Marketing Director, Kayla champions our efforts to educate public libraries on the need for a robust community engagement strategy. She works alongside our other teams to ensure that Demco Software's solutions effectively complement and amplify libraries' community engagement efforts.