JCHLA / JABSC 37: 26 (2016) doi: 10.5596/c16-008

Mobile Technologies for Every Library. Ann W. Gleason. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield; 2015. Softcover: 129 p. Price: USD$55. ISBN# 978-1-4422-4892-2. Available from:

Mobile Technologies for Every Library provides an overview of mobile technologies for use with library resources and services, as well as in library operations. Mobile technologies have grown both in usage and capability over the past decade. Today, more internet traffic comes from mobile devices in Canada and the United States than from desktop computers, according to the comScore Global Mobile Report 2015. As mobile technology use increases, libraries have begun using these technologies to provide access to resources and services to mobile users. Libraries have also taken advantage of the new capabilities provided by mobile technologies, such as providing reference services via text message or a mobile-optimized website live chat.

In recent years, there have been a number of books published on the topic of mobile technologies in libraries, including The Handheld Library: Mobile Technology and the Librarian by Peters and Bell and Using Mobile Technology to Deliver Library Services: A handbook by Walsh. Mobile Technologies for Every Library provides some of the same content as other books on the topic, but also provides unique content specifically for health sciences libraries. With previous experience as the Associate Director of Resources and Systems and Head of Computer Systems at the University of Washington Health Sciences Library, Gleason has much experience with mobile and other technologies to inform her book.

The book includes 10 chapters and starts off by providing the reader with background information on the history of mobile technologies and an overview of mobile devices. Gleason goes on to cover topics such as making websites mobile friendly, and using mobile technologies in education, library instruction, and outreach. She finishes off by discussing the future of mobile technologies in her final chapter.

Gleason takes a health sciences library focus, which is expected given her background in health sciences libraries and that this is a Medical Library Association book. She draws on her experience at the University of Washington Health Sciences Library when discussing a number of programs, including “a pilot project to explore the use of tablet computers in the library” (p. 51). She also refers to resources from organizations such as the American Library Association and provides examples of programs from a variety of academic and public libraries, including Boston University, making the book relevant to other libraries.

This book is written for varying levels of experience with mobile technologies and the web. Gleason makes the effort not to assume previous knowledge or experience. For example, she explains how to move apps on an iPhone or iPad, something that would be familiar to most, but not all, readers. At the same time, she references best practice guidelines in designing mobile apps, research studies on online education, and numerous library outreach initiatives that would be of interest to those with previous knowledge and experience.

Gleason provides a fair amount of detail without overwhelming the reader. At the end of each chapter, she includes citations, as well as suggested resources and further reading, so as to maintain the flow of her writing within the chapter. She provides many examples from the library and information science, education, and health sciences literature throughout the book. In particular, in the chapter “Using Mobile Technology in Education,” she delves into the benefits, barriers, and drawbacks of online education. Given the barriers and drawbacks that she mentions, I would have appreciated a more thorough discussion of when it is beneficial and advisable to engage in online education.

I was surprised to open the book and find it text heavy with only a handful of black and white graphics. Given the content of the book, I was expecting a presentation similar to Steve Krug’s classic Don’t Make Me Think with the text broken up by lots of colour graphics. The use of more photos, illustrations, and screenshots would have aided in explaining some very visual topics, such as mobile website layout, and helped to better carry the reader’s attention. The charts in the first few chapters are difficult to read in grayscale.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in improving or expanding the use of mobile technologies in their library. I already have one of the chapters flagged to share with my colleagues!

Catherine Young
Medical Library
Saskatoon Health Region
710 Queen Street
Saskatoon, SK S7K 2R1