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Bethel Creates Library App to Better Serve Students

Staff from the Otis & Elizabeth Bowen Library at Bethel College have developed an innovative way to provide services to students by creating a mobile library app. Of Bethel’s 119 peer institutions in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), Bethel is the first to have a library app available for both the Android and Apple markets.

The app, developed by Assistant Librarian Kevin Blowers, combines all of the library’s services in one place, allowing students to search library resources, request materials and access e-books directly from their phone or tablet.

“We noticed more and more students coming to the help desk with their phones or mobile devices,” says Mark Root, associate director of library services. He says that, previously, students were able to access the library’s mobile website from their device and could download some apps from third-party vendors. But the overall experience was far from user friendly and library staff saw an opportunity to provide better service.

Evidence is clear that mobile-friendly services are increasingly important for anyone wanting to reach millennials, a group generally defined as those born in the 1980s and 1990s. According to the 2013 Millennial Impact Report, 83 percent of millennials own a smartphone and they expect to find relevant information and tools on mobile websites. A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center found that 45% of all 18-29 year olds who use the internet on their cell phones do most of their online browsing on their mobile device.

 “We want to meet students where they are at and the way to do that is to develop a mobile app,” says Root. “We think this really opens up the library in a new way for our students.”

Links to both the Apple and Android app can be found at BethelCollege.edu/Library.