I’m underwhelmed by SirsiDynix’s iPhone app, BookMyne.

First, I don’t see the point of this app.

BookMyne allows you to add more than one library that is using a SirsiDynix product (and is paying for Web Services) to your list of libraries. The GPS in the phone can identify where you are, and you can either search for libraries using proximity (from 10 to 300 miles) or using an interface that looks like Google Earth. You can then do a keyword search of one library in this list, and put a hold on an item, or renew your books.

I can’t think of a use case where you would need to add more than one SirsiDynix library to your phone. Perhaps if you had kids that went to a school where the library was using a SirsiDynix product, and your public library was also using a SirsiDynix product? Both the public library and school library would need to be paying extra for Web Services and have their libraries set up to access through this app. Currently there are no libraries in British Columbia using this. Granted, it was only added to the app store earlier this week, but still…

Someone from a special library asked if it was possible to restrict the app to one library as it would be a way for a library to market their services and collection on the iPhone. The sales representative replied that it wasn’t. This made me think that this app is more about marketing the vendor than it is about marketing our libraries to our users.

Second, the functionality is disappointing. For almost everything on my iPhone, I’m able to pinch to zoom in and out, and if I turn my phone from being vertical to horizontal the screen also flips. When I did a catalog search the titles were getting cut off This is standard functionality that I expect on my phone. Both of these things are missing from BookMyne.

Third, Bookmyne doesn’t meet my expectations of how things should look and work on my phone. I like the clean and elegant interface of the iPhone and the clean and elegant design of apps.A   It took me several minutes to figure out how to find and add a library so that I could search. I noticed that I wasn’t alone–a few other iPhone toting Systems and IT folks had puzzled looks on their faces while poking at their phones.

The SirsiDynix sales representative kept repeating how innovative this application was. The iPhone has been around for about 3 years now, so marketing an iPhone app as innovative struck me as slightly delusional.

The press release (PDF) quotes Talin Bingham, the CTO as saying that “BookMyneA ® provides meaningful patron interaction with their library, which is one of the fundamental objectives that drives all development at SirsiDynix”. I don’t see how BookMyne provides meaningful patrpn interaction.

Instead of an iPhone app, I’d rather see improvements made to the OPAC so that it displays and works better on all smart phones, or an API so that libraries can develop their own apps to market their libraries to their communities. This would be better than a pointless, ugly iPhone app that doesn’t quite work, and seems to market the vendor, not the library.