Harvard University today (Jan. 20) launched the library module of the Harvard mobile app, offering access to the world’s largest university research library from virtually anywhere.
The University is restructuring its library system in response to a rapidly changing technological and intellectual landscape, and the app will allow the Harvard Library to better serve patrons who increasingly rely on an array of mobile devices. It gives users access to the HOLLIS catalog, a database containing 12.8 million records of journals, manuscripts, government documents, maps, microforms, music scores, sound recordings, visual materials, and data files in the University’s collection. In addition, users will be able to access information about Harvard’s library facilities and archive collections.
“Academic libraries must not only collect and preserve materials, but must also be engines of innovation in this rapidly changing world,” said Helen Shenton, executive director of the new Harvard Library. “This is a big step toward making the Harvard Library collections accessible to our patrons, regardless of their location or platform.”
Harvard launched its University-wide mobile initiative — both a native iPhone app and a mobile web application for any Internet-enabled phone — last September, providing users with access to campus maps, directories, and dining hall menus, as well as University news, events, shuttle schedules, and course catalogs. Since then, the native iPhone app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, and the mobile web application has received hundreds of thousands of page views from campus community and visitors. The University will continue to develop and improve these applications, and expand the initiative by bringing in more mobile-aware and mobile-appropriate content.
The Harvard native iPhone app is free and can be used with the iPhone 4, 3GS, and 3G hardware, but users must download the free iOS 4 software update. Users with earlier versions of the iPhone app can access the new library component by refreshing the app. The mobile web application is available at m.harvard.edu.
The library component is the product of a collaboration among Harvard Public Affairs and Communications, Modo Labs in Cambridge, and staff in Harvard University Library’s Office for Information Systems. Library staff provided key user testing as the mobile-friendly site was completed earlier this month.