Institution: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries
Academic library websites can be intimidating for undergraduate students who may have limited experience with library research. To help address this need, the UTSA Libraries launched Serials Solutions’ Summon unified search service in January 2010. One month later, a team consisting of staff from four library departments launched the Summon Mobile service, allowing users to easily perform searches from mobile phones. The mobile service was publicized using a 42-second video as the centerpiece for marketing efforts (http://lib.utsa.edu/Help/Summon/mobile.html).
The primary audience for Summon was undergraduates, and undergraduates are heavy users of mobile technology, so the mobile search appeared to fit well with student preferences. While using a phone for in-depth research is clearly not ideal, the mobile feature would enable students to perform quick inquiries or check the availability and location of a specific item.
The library’s Instructional Designer, Communications Coordinator, and two Research Services (subject) librarians served as the implementation team. The group developed a three-step plan: 1) to research and test Summon Mobile, 2) to familiarize library staff with the product, and 3) to promote Summon Mobile to students.
Although the library does not yet have a mobile website, the team learned that users could easily access Summon Mobile from web-enabled phones by pulling up the library’s regular home page and inputting a search term into the Summon search box. The team spent a week experimenting with Summon Mobile on a variety of mobile phones.
To educate staff, a written guide to Summon Mobile was produced which provided “how to” instructions and troubleshooting tips. Next presentations were made at staff meetings, using a document projector to demonstrate mobile searches on an iPhone.
Finally, the Summon Mobile was announced to students via a dedicated web page (titled “Does my phone have what it takes to do a library search?”), and a home page “ad” was created to point to it.
To advertise the service, the team created a promotional video with several goals in mind: the video would be short (the final product is 42 seconds); it would engage students (they chose a charismatic student as spokesperson and used creative animation); and it would have a straightforward, “how-to” approach. Most importantly, the video would answer the question, “why would I want to search library resources on my phone?” All told, the video took two hours to film and twenty-four to edit using software applications from the Adobe Master Collection Suite.
After the video’s launch, it was decided that the big search box on the home page needed a brand identity. The library debated names and solicited student feedback before setting on “Library Quick Search.” This name has the advantage of transparency — it explains what the tool does upfront.
To date, there have been 1,100 hits to the Summon Mobile video on YouTube–a good indication of interest. Most noteworthy, following these promotional efforts, monthly searches of the Summon service have risen from an initial 900 searches in January 2010 to over 46,000 searches in April 2011.
Project Type: Completed Project
Budget: staff time only
Heather Williams, Instructional Designer
Anne Peters, Communications Coordinator
Natasha Arguello, Research Services Librarian
Gary Woods, Instructional Services Librarian, Downtown Campus Library
Greg Longoria, Systems Analyst II