Libraries and Patrons on the Move: From Bookmobiles to “m” Libraries
We’ll admit that we had hoped to receive at least one proposal on bookmobiles for this issue. Bookmobiles are mobile library services after all, aren’t they? Although the term “mobile libraries” or “m-library services” has recently become fashionable and mostly refers to library services delivered via telecommunications and computer technology, as bookmobiles demonstrate, the idea of mobile libraries is not new. Bookmobiles have been around for some time1 and have been one of the mechanisms used to support and carry out the core of the library’s mission – to serve patrons’ information needs. Like the bookmobile, our current incarnation of mobile libraries also helps to support and carry out this mission. However, what has changed from the bookmobile to the present is that now the librarian can assist patrons, regardless of the physical location of the patron or the librarian.
The technological changes that have developed allowing for mobile library services have grown at mind-boggling speed over the last 20 years. Even as we were preparing this issue, the world saw the release of a major new mobile device – the Apple iPad – which is set to have a tremendous impact on peoples’ interaction with information. The iPad is trying to define itself as a new genre of mobile devices, blending some Apple’s most successful products into one. This pace of technological developments of this kind feels especially rapid for the people of Generation Y and older who remember when call waiting was a new feature (does the M Generation even know what a busy signal sounds like?), cell phones were the size of a large brick (it doubled as a self-defense tool), and a time when communicating with someone in another country via video conferencing seemed about as plausible as the flying cars in The Jetsons (we’re from Los Angeles, we really wouldn’t mind that flying car) .
Michelle Jacobs-Lustig and Brena Smith. "Libraries and Patrons on the Move: From Bookmobiles to “m” Libraries" Reference Services Review 38.2 (2010).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mjl/1