How a Mobile App Can Raise the Bar for Your Library

Oct 25, 2018 | Articles

Since the average smartphone user spends three hours a day using mobile apps, it’s easy to see why Pew Research Center says we’re living in an “apps culture.” More and more of your community members of all backgrounds are gaining access to smartphones, and information at the tap of a finger is becoming the norm. If your library doesn’t offer an app, you might be missing out on engaging a substantial portion of your community.

You might be wondering what an app can do for your library that a mobile-friendly website can’t. Read on for some of the many perks of a library mobile app — and why your patrons will thank you for having one.

Provide Instant Status Updates and Library Card Access

Many people don’t want to drive to a movie rental kiosk without knowing that a copy of the movie they want is available. Similarly, patrons probably wouldn’t drive to a local library branch to pick up a hold if they weren’t sure that it was ready and waiting for them.

Of course, you can offer hold status information on a mobile-friendly website, but a mobile app is much easier to use and can instantly alert a patron when a hold becomes available. An app also offers a quick and easy way for patrons to find out if a title they want is on the shelf, place holds, and get information on checked-out items. Additionally, a library app can eliminate the headache of remembering to bring a physical library card, as patrons can use their phones as their library card to pick up their holds and check out other items.

Simplify Tasks with an Easily Navigable Interface

Your community members are used to modern, easy-to-navigate interfaces that make it simple to complete their desired tasks. The average community member doesn’t care how complex the tech behind your tool is — they just want it to look nice and work right!

By offering an intuitive, easily navigable experience on a mobile app specifically designed for libraries, you can take all of your most popular patron tasks — searching your catalog, locating branches, accessing e-content and accounts — and simplify them to just one or two clicks. An app also gives you the chance to spotlight lesser-known services and events where patrons already are: on their phones.

Offer Access to Library Resources and Apps

In today’s app-friendly world, people have become accustomed to getting full access to resources on their phones. In other words, they don’t just want to browse titles that are available on a streaming service; they want to watch full episodes of their favorite TV shows and movies and read full versions of books.

Similarly, patrons are looking for an easy way to search your catalog, but they want more than that. They want a library app that offers access to e-books, e-audiobooks, and video content on the go, too. With a mobile app, you can not only provide access but you can offer a single point of entry to all of the apps that your library already offers, making it easier than ever for patrons to access your resources.

Extend Your Reach with Convenient Live Support

Most online shopping sites feature chat boxes that connect shoppers with helpful sales reps. Through chat, these sites provide the highest possible level of service to customers even before they’ve checked out or visited a physical store. Your more introverted community members may appreciate how technology has made it possible to do everything from shop for groceries to order a pizza without needing to have any human interaction. Still, the best e-commerce sites offer an option to connect with people behind the tech just in case help is needed.

Live customer support isn’t new to libraries — in fact, you’ve likely been offering some sort of “Ask a Librarian” service for years. But by integrating this feature into your library app, you’ll make your librarians and their expertise available to community members wherever and whenever they need it, with just a few taps on their phones.

Boost Attendance and Traffic with Calendars and Reminders

These days, you don’t have to have your own personal assistant to keep your busy schedule in check. Siri and Alexa are just a voice command away, and many people have email reminders to thank for their timely arrival to meetings and events.

With a library app, you can put your calendar of events and classes directly in your community members’ hands, increasing the likelihood that they’ll discover (and remember to take advantage of) your programs and services. Patrons can easily filter by the events and services they are interested in, as well as register, add events to their phone’s calendar, and set reminders — all at the same time. A mobile app can also allow you to send your users push notifications to ensure that they are not missing out on important information about events and services.

Exceed Expectations with DiscoverMobile

Providing status updates, full e-resource access, live chat support, and a real-time library calendar — all on a simple user interface — can sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With DiscoverMobile, your library can offer its community members the mobile experience they have come to expect with these and other key features. ADA compliant, this powerful tool provides one-click access that can help you meet your community engagement goals. But don’t just take our word for it. Download our Guide to Selecting a Mobile App for Your Library today to determine if this is the right solution for you. Don’t wait — an app can allow you to engage with a large portion of your community that you may have been missing!


The Average Smartphone User Accessed 40 Apps per Month in 2017
The Rise of Apps Culture

Todd Feece

Todd Feece is a Senior Product Manager Demco Software. In this role, he collaborates closely with public libraries to understand how to best solve the challenges they face with new software solutions, or enhancements to our existing products.