How Boopsie Helped Houston Public Library Better Serve Its Users
About Houston Public Library
The Houston Public Library system serves more than 2 million residents in the City of Houston through 44 public service units. This includes 31 neighborhood libraries, four regional libraries, three special collection libraries and four express libraries, the HPL Mobile Express and a satellite library located at the Children’s Museum of Houston. The flagship facility, the Central Library located in downtown Houston, anchors this constellation of service points.
The Library system holds 3.6 million items. In the past year, the library has served 7.2 million in-person and online visitors, which includes answering over 667,546 reference questions and serving nearly 189,050 participants through their special programs. They’ve also circulated more than 6.9 million books, magazines and audio-visual materials.
Users are becoming more and more reliant upon their mobile phones as portals to conveniently access information, from searching for answers to health inquiries to seeking jobs, reading books to listening to music. Specifically, the number of adults who have a smartphone has almost doubled in the last four years and the number of students who use mobile devices to study has doubled in the last two years. Many of these smartphone owners rely solely upon their phones for access to the internet. This trend towards mobile access to information is part of what has inspired Houston Public Library to customize their resources to make them more accessible via this popular medium.
These smartphone users have no shortage of options — 1.5 million options in the Apple store and 1.6 million in the Google Play store — when it comes to the apps that they can use to access information via their phones. This means that libraries have competition, making it necessary to provide not just any mobile app, but an app that mirrors the user-friendly experience that users have come to expect from apps like those offered by Amazon, Facebook, and other popular sites.
“Our mission is to link people to the world,” said Saima Kadir, Virtual Library Services Manager. “In order to do so, we need to offer an engaging experience that makes people want to use our wealth of authoritative resources as readily as they want to use the non-library resources that they frequent. Additionally, we need to prove the value of our investment in the app since this is a new offering for our library. With this goal in mind, we sought a partner who could offer a full package app to link our users to our resources in a way that was more accessible.”
The Library had three specific goals: (1) To find one provider that offered a suite of products customized to their individual requirements, (2) to provide convenience for users, and (3) to increase usage of their resources through the app in an easily trackable way.