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50 Great Mobile Apps for Libraries

Richard Le and Tom Duffy

You can get a list of all of the apps from the presentation at the mobile page:

46% of American adults own smart phones.  By 2016, 10 billion will be in use worldwide.  By the year 2013 there will be 81.4 billion apps.  The average download of apps per device is 51.  The average time spent on apps per day is 81 minutes (HOLY MOTHER—THAT’S A LOT).  This changes the landscape of our information environment.  People are using their smart phones to check local weather, find local businesses, get information, check sports scores, get traffic info, coupons, and info about their local community.  Americans are working harder—but on their own time, taking their work home.  80% of people continue to work after leaving the office.  68% check email before 8am in the morning, and 50% of them check their work email while they’re still in bed (GUILTY AS CHARGED).  Apps have changed the way we search for and access information.  The mobile platform is the preferred way to access information on the go.  We can integrate information and add value to our work with better and richer content.  Most of the apps featured today are free. Richard recommends the Android apps.  Tom recommends the iOS apps.

iOS apps

  1. Wolfram Alpha – excellent for information and comparative data
  2. Reference USA (for iPad only)
  3. Farlex – pretty cool dictionary with audio pronunciation
  4. DuckDuckGo (browser that doesn’t track your history, no filter, awesome)
  5. Article Search – searches Google Scholar, JSTOR, etc.
  6. Job Search
  7. iReader
  8. Epicurious – recipes and shopping lists
  9. Cam-Dictionary – translates text on the fly from one language to another, also with audio pronunciation

10. Shazam – love this app for identifying music

11. RedLaser – owned by eBay, lets you scan a barcode and find the item online quickly with both places to buy it or check it out from the library (for reals, the library is listed—nice!)

12. TurboScan – $1.99

13. OverDrive – recommends it for audio books especially

14. Kindle – great user interface (yep)

15. Moo, Baa, La la la! – kids book with good animation

16. PopOut! Peter – can click the word and hear it spoken, or read it yourself.  Highlights the words as they’re read.

17. iTunes U – university level education for free. Yays!

18. Khan Academy – video tutoring that lets you browse by subject, app comes for the iPad too

19. Mango languages – ESL classes & other language classes

20. Biblion

21. GoodReads – just like the  website, in other words awesome

22. AppAdvice – recommended apps

23. Apps Gone Free – a list of apps that used to cost money but are free now

24. Library Books – hook it up to your library, works with a lot of library systems, shows you your loan history, checked out items, etc.

25. Nimbulist – simple note-taking app


Android apps

26. Merrian-Webster – does offer audio pronunciations

27. – shows popular and local trending searches, includes a thesaurus and spelling suggestion

28. Urban Dictionary – 6.5 million definitions

29. White & Yellow Pages

30. YP – also gives you local deals and events

31. AccessMyLibrary – Gale databases

32. Loclaicious – searching nearby business and points of interest with maps to the place

33. Merck PTE HD – periodic table of the elements

34. CamScanner – Turns your smart phone’s camera into a fax machine, copier, and scanner.  You can share what you scan.

35. Google Goggles – Search for stuff by taking a photo, works for artwork, barcodes, products, popular images, etc.  Also will translate text in French, Italian, and Spanish.  Also works really well on headshots of people—don’t know who someone is? Take their photo and Google Goggle stalk the crap out of them 🙂

36. Google Translate – translates text between 64 languages.  Can translate by speaking in 17 languages.

37. AllRecipes – can mix and match by what ingredients you have and limit by cooking time, has nutritional info as well

38. BigOven – Searches 250,000 recipes, and gives you ideas to use up leftovers

39. Holy Bible – Comprehensive database of all of the popular translations and versions, includes an audio version as well

40. TripAdvisor – quick city guide for travelers, works offline (yays!)

41. Congress – facts about lawmakers and bills, see how your local representatives vote

42. – product recalls, can scan product barcodes or search by name

43. FirstAid – from the American Red Cross with step by step instructions and training videos

44. WebMD – quick medical and health information, find local doctors and hospitals

45. Fooducate – can scan the barcode and see what ingredients are in it, highlighting both the good and the bad and giving you healthier alternatives

46. ShopSavvy – scan and find the best online and local prices.  Can use it for another way too—scan books and create reading lists you can email to yourself or your patrons.

47. Bloomberg – finance news and data, stock tracking, etc.

48. Relief Central – world facts about 266 countries including disaster guides, Medline citations, etc.

49. World Factbook – CIA World Factbook mobile style

50. SportsTab – assess scores, news, and team info

Richard and Tom also did an en masse Bump session at the end with any interested attendees – with one smart phone fist bump transferring all the apps from their session in one go to each person.  AWESOME IDEA.

“Internet Librarian: 50 Great Mobile Apps for Libraries”

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  5. Hillary: Librarian in Training Says:

    I really liked the division of apps into IOS and Andriod. I have an iPhone and an Andriod tablet. I have quite a few of the apps already downloaded on my devices but I am also excited to try some new ones. Thanks for providing this information, I think that they will be very beneficial for librarians and others wanting to use the library services.

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