“In three years’ time, desktops will be irrelevant... Mobile makes the world’s information universally accessible.” John Herlihy, Vice President, Global Ad Operations for Google.
This quote appeared on the registration for a webinar sponsored by the OCLU and Library Journal, entitled, “The Future is Mobile, Is Your Library Ready?” Three thousand people attended the online symposium. Working at the local library, and being interested in the technological interface between the library system and our patrons, I was anxious to see how the three speakers, all with impressive resumes in the field of technology, would link libraries to the technological future.
The first speaker was Lindsay Notwell, Executive Director of 4G Strategy and Implementation for Verizon Wireless. He explained that 4G technology will be available to over 1 million people in 30 different markets within a year’s time, the reach will be doubled within two years, and by 2013 all the rest of the Verizon coverage map, including my town, will be 4G. The vast majority of US service providers are going 4G. What this means for the local folks is we will have the ability be wholly mobile in three short years. Mr. Notwell called it the “internet of things”: mobile devices, GPS systems, monitoring of prisoners, and applications that bring science fiction closer to reality than ever before.
4G mobile devices (such as Smartphones) are high powered mini-computers that fit into your pocket. One of my library board members, owner of a Verizon Droid, recently told me that she was pleased with her purchase. On a recent trip to Texas she was able to keep up to date on her email, use her phone for GPS while traveling, take pictures, surf the internet, keep track of her appointments, and of course she can use it to make a phone call. 4G technology is fast and reliable, ten times faster than 3G, with latency time of a mere 30 milliseconds. There are so many applications (apps) that are being developed for use on mobile devices; we will be able to do live video chat, video voice mail, real time media sharing, video streamlining and picture sharing. Mr. Notwell even suggested that as laptops have replaced desktops, mobile devices will replace laptops. 4G will be able to host multi-player online role playing gaming, in-game chat, and new games are already in development. 4G will take the mobile office to a whole new level of remote through video collaboration and high-definition voice calling. Your device will be its own little mobile hot-spot; anywhere you can use your phone you will be able to tap into 4G. Did you know USB modems are already available?
There are library-specific applications currently in use, such as pic2shop, bookbazaar, text a librarian, and others. Your mobile device can identify your location and provide directions to libraries nearby. My library director says that the future survival of libraries lies with a universal borrowing system. She envisions sharing beyond your region, giving everyone access to collections from across the country through your current library card. It is evident she is correct when you consider how much information will be available at your fingertips, including directions to the nearest library, whether you are a cardholder there or not.