Sunday, April 06, 2014

Using mobile devices for library research, part 2

With finals and the end of the spring semester in sight, now is a good time to consider how you can get the most out of your research time at Armacost Library. In the first part of my blog post on how you could use mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets in your research process, I offered some general tips about finding sources, managing sources and citations, and developing your thinking. In subsequent posts, I will be sharing more specific advice about four tools particularly helpful for mobile research:
  • Mobile-friendly library databases based on responsive design principles
  • Evernote for developing research projects
  • Zotero or Mendeley for managing citations
So let's get started by looking at mobile-friendly databases!

Finding articles in an Ebsco database

Most of Armacost Library's article databases are now mobile friendly by default. You don't need to download a special app to use them; just click the link from our Article Databases web page!
In the early days of mobile computing, software developers argued whether it was better to create a new app for each mobile device, or design one website that would look good and work well regardless of which device was used to display it. The latter strategy is winning out, thanks to the development of responsive web design principles. [1]
For example, here is a sample search conducted in one of Armacost Library's databases. The interface changes its appearance depending on whether you are viewing it on a phone or a tablet. You can revise your search results and download PDF files to your device just as if you were using a desktop computer.

Listening to music in the Naxos Music Library

As a pianist, composer and general classical music fan, the Naxos Music Library is one of my favorite library databases. I've been a longtime user of their free app (see the iPhone and Android versions). The iPhone app is a little awkward to use on a tablet, but all the functionality is there.
This year, Naxos upgraded its player to use responsive design principles. Simply follow the link from the Armacost Library website, search the Naxos catalog of over 95,000 classical and jazz CDs, and you will be able to listen to the streaming audio over your phone or tablet. Up to 15 students can listen to recordings simultaneously.
In the next post in this series on mobile devices and library research, I'll share how you can use Evernote to help you organize your thoughts during longer-term research projects. Until then,
Sanjeet Mann
Electronic Resources Librarian
University of Redlands


1. Many authors have offered basic definitions of responsive web design. For example, see web developer John Polacek's visual introduction to responsive design, or library consultant Aaron Schmidt's article introducing the concept to a general librarian audience.

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