A mobile future for academic libraries

Joan K. Lippincott (Coalition for Networked Information, Washington, DC, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 18 May 2010



Society may be on the verge of a revolutionary phase of mobile device use in higher education generally and in libraries in particular. This paper seeks to address this issue.


Through an examination of trends and technological developments in the area of mobile devices and a review of the potential of mobile devices, the paper analyzes the potential of mobile devices in academic libraries.


Most college students own cell phones and laptops and the capabilities of these and other devices are expanding.

Research limitations/implications

Libraries have the opportunity to extend new types of services to users of mobile devices and to develop, license, or otherwise make available scholarly content that is configured for mobile devices. Ideally, libraries will become part of an institutional planning process for the development of services for mobile devices.

Practical implications

The more pervasive use by students of smartphones, the uptake of e‐book readers, and the increasing use of mobile devices in some areas of the curriculum all have implications for libraries.

Social implications

Some writers in this area believe that the increased capabilities of mobile devices could lead to new forms of engagement with student learning; this possibility can be embraced by academic libraries that seek to be strong partners in the teaching and learning process of their institution.


The paper synthesizes developments and provides suggestions for the future.



Lippincott, J. (2010), "A mobile future for academic libraries", Reference Services Review, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 205-213. https://doi.org/10.1108/00907321011044981

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