Athabasca University delivers its services to students exclusively through distance education. For this reason, the University and the Library give substantial support to wireless and mobile interaction—including small screen mobile devices like PDAs and smart phones—whenever possible. “We’re trying to make everything we do at the library mobile-compliant because being able to work remotely is an essential part of distance education,” says Doug Kariel, Head of Technical Services and Systems.
The decision to engage Innovative for wireless and mobile services was a key decision. “The wireless functionality works well without a hassle,” says Kariel. “One thing we like about Innovative is the reliability of service. While we’re a small library, we have a large amount of people to serve. Reliability of service is important in this kind of environment. The great customer support from Innovative is also really critical. We don’t have a huge IT department. You need library technology that runs itself, and that allows you to do more when you need to.”
“AU Library has implemented AirPAC as one component of our mobile library, because it allows students to access our online catalog through small screen devices,” says Tony Tin, Electronic Resources Librarian. ”We’ve cataloged some eresources into WebPAC Pro so that students, including those using mobile devices, can get a more complete picture of what we have without additional effort. Students can also link directly from our Digital Thesis and Project Room back into the catalog, for easy requesting of materials.”
Students often begin their sessions with the University at its Web portal. That’s why the Library selected Innovative’s Single Sign-on product. “It doesn’t matter how or where you sign on, you can still get to the Library without re-authenticating,” says Kariel. “These days it is critical that libraries keep the complexity in the background. Don’t make students work hard to find your content. Authentication shouldn’t be a hurdle. Let them concentrate on their coursework.”
“Innovative also helps us to stay updated with new technologies. We are in a small town, and we use the Internet to keep in touch with the Innovative Users Group,” says Kariel. “You feel like you are part of a community because of the quality of the discussion list. When attending the IUG conference, we feel a connection to others in the library technology community. I really appreciate how supportive the company is of this kind of activity because it supports the continual evolution of our services.”