This paper aims to provide quantitative and qualitative data on students' use of mobile devices and to consider the benefit of academic mobile library services to students.
Initial mobile library research included an online survey that attracted 1,716 participants. This was followed up with two discussion groups of six undergraduate and five postgraduate students. The survey followed‐on from an earlier survey conducted by the University of Edinburgh's Information Services (IS) in March 2010.
The dramatic growth of smartphone ownership among students in an eight‐month period was surprising: a 17 per cent increase between March and November 2010. In addition, 68 per cent of students who plan to change their mobile handset would upgrade to a smartphone.
As students were unable to provide feedback on University of Edinburgh's own mobile library services, their feedback is speculative and subject to change.
The paper provides evidence for libraries to determine the value of developing their own mobile services. It also demonstrates the proliferation of mobile device usage within the university and library context and indicates which services students would find most useful on a mobile device.
The paper provides insight into a rapidly moving area of technology as demonstrated through the research. The increasing use of mobile devices among students is important to acknowledge. The role of the academic library is to embrace changing student behaviour by providing services optimised for mobile devices.
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