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OCLS Shake It!

Orange County Library System
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Innovation Leader: Eric Atkinson, Information Systems Department Head, atkinson.eric@ocls.info

Problem Statement

According to a recent Pew report, The Rise of the Apps Culture, 35 percent of U.S. adults have software applications or “apps” on their phones. The report also makes the point this is remarkable growth considering that there was no apps culture until two years ago. If libraries hesitate, clearly we may fall too far behind to catch up. The Orange County Library System (OCLS) has already taken steps to embrace these crucial new technologies and stay relevant in an increasingly mobile society. And our patrons have responded!

Innovation

OCLS Shake IT! is an innovative native app for finding materials on the go; putting a spin on reader’s advisory. This free downloadable app (available through iTunes for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad) was developed in-house by the Library’s Digital Content Team. Using a randomized “shake” feature, the user can receive materials recommendations for books, audiobooks and DVDs. Material matches can also be customized by locking down the audience, genre, or material format. This allows users to generate a result more specific to their interests. Essentially, OCLS Shake It! creates a virtual browsing shelf. When a match is displayed, the user touches the title to be taken to the mobile catalog where they have access to the title’s availability, ratings, and location as well as the ability to place a hold.

Progress

OCLS Shake It! went live in Apple’s App Store on July 10, 2010. Since then it has been downloaded over 2,000 times and has received well over 17,000 shakes. Each shake suggesting a title of a book, audiobook or DVD. Work is well underway on an Android version of the app. The app was featured in an article in the Orlando Sentinel on July 14, 2010. It was also highlighted in a USA Today article on libraries and new technologies on October 3, 2010. The lead developer of the app spoke about the development process at the Hand Held Librarian conference on February 23, 2010 and Computers in Libraries conference on March 20, 2010. At these conferences he has provided encouragement to other libraries to develop their own apps.