I carried out a study in late 2009 within my own library environment, looking at students’ attitudes and their willingness for the library to intrude upon something that might be viewed as a very personal tool, that is, their mobile phones. Together with Chapter 2, on mobile information literacy, this chapter helps to put the ideas and case studies in this book into context. It gives a flavour of the sorts of services university students consider useful and important, many of which would transfer to other sectors. This is an area that is continuing to evolve as the penetration of high-level mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers increases.
This was an important area to study because, although many mobile learning and libraries case studies are published in the literature, most of them focus on the implementation of a technology or service. Many projects have supplied mobile phones or PDAs (personal digital assistants) to trial participants, for instance the Assessment and Learning in Practice Settings (ALPS) project, which issued 900 high-end mobiles/PDAs to study participants. There has thus been limited study of the level of these services’ acceptance among students using their own mobile devices in the context of the delivery of library services, in particular of whether students would see contact initiated by the library via their own mobiles as intrusive, as opposed to services such as ‘text a librarian’, where the students themselves choose to initiate contact. There are small elements of this in some of the existing literature, for example Uday Bhaksar and Govindarajulu (2008) report some brief examples of student feedback on the use of text messaging (SMS) services and Pasanen (2002) describes the early adoption of such services at Helsinki University of Technology.
However, in the commercial sector there has been relevant research on contact by companies, particularly promotional contact, with their customers. Some of this can be directly translated into potential library uses. A Finnish study led by Merisavo (2007) found that mobile advertising that recipients perceived to be useful in regard to both context and content was generally well received. Merisavo also looked at issues of control and trust, that is, whether mobile owners feel some sense of intrusion and perhaps powerlessness on account of receiving advertisements from perhaps dubious senders.