I didn’t get to attend the LITA National Forum this year but judging from he tweets I missed one of the better LITA conference line-ups in a while. One of the major topics I saw people tweeting about was designing services for mobile devices. The general gist from the tweets I saw was that in the next few years libraries will have to support mobile users. While I agree that we need to do our best to reach our users wherever they are, whenever they want us Twitterville has got me wondering. Is it true that we have a few years to do this? By then the opportunity might be lost. I wonder if in a few years we will need to provide specific services to mobile devices. By a few I am talking about maybe 4 or 5. I think it is something we ought to be doing now, but probably won’t need to provide in a longer time frame. The iPhone and similar devices already display most Web pages fine. Sure, you need to check them, but most are usable. That said, most are also currently not as easily to be used as possible. However with the rate of technology change, in 5 years mobile devices will be much better at display Web pages and I predict they will be able to display almost all Web pages without a hitch.
That said, I think librarians need to go mobile now. We can’t, or at least we shouldn’t, wait for mobile devices to catch-up with our, often poorly designed, Web sites and associated Web applications (e.g. OPACs, Federated Search engines, etc.). We need to be rolling out services now that will provide mobile users the services they need until mobile technology catches up. If not, I whole four year class (in Academic institutions) will be missing out. We shouldn’t allow that.