09 Mar 2015
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Android App Review: Auckland Libraries App

By Eddie Monotone

Last week Auckland Libraries launched their very own app. It’s a functional and cleanly set-up app that doesn’t give you anything new, but does give it to you on the go.

I’ll start by admitting that I love libraries. I’ll probably go at least once a fortnight, and I’m slowly but surely working my way through every comic Marvel’s ever published thanks to them. One of the redeeming features of the Auckland Supercity merger was that we now have heaps more libraries that we can get books from.

So when I discovered that Auckland Libraries had recently released their new app, I had mixed feelings. One the one hand: great, now I can have the library on my phone wherever I go! On the other hand: the library system, including its online component, was already working fine for me. What do I actually need this app to do?

We seem to live in an age where every business or organisation requires its own app, where there’s this desperate push much like the one we had a generation earlier when everyone suddenly needed a website. The library app makes sense though, I think, because the online stuff – the catalogue, the ebooks and so on – is already an important part of the library system. Having a mobile version of that seems like the next logical step.

So as you’d expect, the Auckland Libraries app works very similarly to their website. It lets you search the catalogue, log in to see your account, look up digital resources and articles, and find the locations of physical libraries near you. So basically the same things you’d get from the website, but in an app form.

Except some of it isn’t even app-shaped. When you look up articles the app takes you to a page almost identical to the website, even to the point of not fitting on your screen and requiring you to zoom in our out. This part of the app personally feels a bit unfinished to me, and doesn’t quite sit right with the rest of it design-wise.

Overall the app is clearly laid out and visually cohesive (apart from the section I mentioned above), and I had no trouble using it the way I would normally use the website. While the app doesn’t offer anything the website doesn’t, what it does offer is (for the most part) set up a bit more phone-friendly. If you’re a high-usage library member like me (and somewhat more attached to your phone) then this app might be of use to you.

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