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Gale has announced a new iPhone application to help people use library resources.   Building off of the AccessMyLibrary identity that Gale has promoted publicly,the application does two things:

  1. detects physical library branches within a 10-mile radius of the user on demand
  2. and uses a web product to connect people to the Gale online resources that their local libraries subscribe to.

The app is downloadable from or from the iTunes store.

For more info, see Gale’s website on the app & ResourceShelf’s review.

I find it interesting that, once again, Gale beats EBSCO to the punch on a new technology.  While EBSCO has EBSCOhost mobile, a mobile version of their interface (that your library needs to set up for it to be usable by your customers), it’s not a downloadable app (which is different).

I definitely have a preference for Gale online resources in general, for many reasons…title holdings, embargoes, better (though admittedly not great) user interfaces, and search relevancy ranking algorithms being a few of those reasons.

Offering something like this–especially if most of your online resources are Gale–is a huge boon for library users.  Our databases are one of the last bastions of stinkiness in libraries’ attempt to make all of our services mobile.  At our library, our catalog, website, eBooks, and ask-a-librarian service are all mobile-friendly.  All of our databases?  Not so much.

To me, this is yet another reason to go with Gale instead of EBSCO.  Not because of this one application development.  EBSCO can replicate that easily enough, and likely soon will.  The real message is that Gale invests in development, is flexible institutionally to respond quickly to change, and monitors trends.  That’s certainly a reason to choose one company over another, especially for such pricey decisions as our database purchases are.

Note: No, I am not on Gale’s payroll.  My library doesn’t even subscribe to Gale products–we in fact switched, through a larger consortium, from Gale to EBSCO this past year.  I can affirm that I am not being compensated for any of the above statements.  I just honestly like Gale better.

“Gale databases iPhone application: another brick in the wall of the EBSCO vs. Gale debate”

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  2. Scot Colford Says:

    Yay! Now, I just want an Android version and we’ll be all set.

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  5. Dave Says:

    I saw the announcement of this and checked it out. It’s really nice that Gale created this, and it’s a good start, but it seems like the app is basically just a portal to their sites. There isn’t an iPhone- or mobile-optimized view, so it’s a lot of pinching and zooming when attempting to use the resources, which is the same exact thing I could get by going to our library’s website.

    We’re planning to launch a new site with a mobile version and iPhone app next month, so customers could use that to get through to all of our resources, not just Gale. Would our customers know what/who Gale is anyway to download their app? Instead of pointing them them to the Gale app, I think we’d rather direct them to our mobile site and let them get to the resources that way.

  6. caleb Says:

    In what situations are phone apps more appropriate than well-designed mobile websites? My strong feeling is that if it applies to public libraries, it isn’t an app you want. So few of our citizens even live in a place with iPhone service!

    But then, if an iPhone user is a library power user, go for it.

  7. Bill Says:

    I downloaded the Gale app, opened it, and got the message, “AccessMyLibrary” was not able to locate any public libraries that subscribe to Gale services, that are located within the acceptable range.”

    Pretty funny, considering I’m sitting at my desk at the library.

    EBSCO does have mobile optimization for their databases, visit (it may not work right until your local administrator has set up a profile).

  8. Emily Says:

    While I have an iPhone and would of course geek this out, not everyone does – I think that a broader phone resource would be more useful to a community or academic patron base. I have used the EBSCO mobile tool with great success. Of course, I just like EBSCO better :)

  9. vickie Says:

    Have to say, Gale has the flash, but Ebsco can be counted on for fuller, more diverse content. Surely that counts for something?

  10. Lesley Says:

    Content is useless if no one can find it. EBSCO has done very little to make its content findable and easy to use for the general public. While Gale hasn’t done everything I’d like, I sense that they are making an effort, that they recognize that the model of providing databases through public libraries is not going to be sustainable if the general public isn’t aware of them

  11. Angela Stevens Says:

    I have used the Gale IPhone App and I have to admit, I think its useless. I don’t particularly like Gale products either. My library uses both Gale and EBSCO but EBSCO has 4x the usage. Better full text and journals. Plus the EBSCO interface is MUCH easier to use. But each person is entitled to his/her opinion.

  12. Ebsco gale | Gttaxbookkeepi Says:

    [...] Gale databases iPhone application: another brick in the wall of the …Dec 21, 2009 … I find it interesting that, once again, Gale beats EBSCO to the punch on a new technology. While EBSCO has EBSCOhost mobile, a mobile … [...]

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