ipad iOS 5 screenshotI’ve been part of a few discussions this week about various aspects of mobile and tablet devices, from the institutional data security aspects through to the implications for website development and for helping library staff to support users using these types of devices.  So it was interesting to hear about another aspect, app collection management, blogged about here by Emily Clasper. 

It was good to see the thought processes about the requirements for buying and maintaining the apps set out so clearly.  And to read the conclusion that, ‘choosing content for the iPad was pretty much the same as developing any library collection’.   It’s reassuring to see that the standard tried and tested library acquisitions processes of  stock objectives, stock plans and stock policies still have relevance to digital devices and apps.

I do wonder though if there is a bit of a difference compared with other library selection processes.  In a lot of cases library material is being pre-selected by the library stock supply industry and presented to librarians for them to choose from, so there is some weeding out of unsuitable material.  There are tools to help stock selection that may not yet have caught up with a need to include apps. And finding apps can be a bit of a hit and miss affair.  

Apps can also be quite unreliable and prone to bugs, but you could say the same of computer games and many libraries have been happily lending them and using them for a long time.  But you do have to factor in time to update the apps at regular intervals.

I’d also wonder about the detail in some of the license conditions with some of the apps.  Tablets are pretty much expected to be ‘personal’ devices, so the license conditions on an app aren’t likely to cover their use on a shared device in the library.