Thursday, October 13, 2011

A 21st Century Librarian Conundrum

This week I received my first set of bibliographies to correct and I started thinking about MLA format.  It seems to have taken over my brain recently and left me with lots of unanswered questions.  One question in particular has been haunting me; how does one cite an iPad app?   My students are using apps for research more and more frequently and in fact I was thinking of recommending these apps for a science project next week. But before I do, I want to make it clear to the students that they will have to cite the app and show them how to do it.

Let’s consider the following:

Is an app a website?
Not quite.  One does not necessarily need Internet access to use an app, just a device on which to view it.

Is an app a database?
Not exactly, however you could use an app to access an online database from the library or create your own database using an app.

Is an app an eBook?
Well….there are book apps.  You could purchase and read an eBook using  an app or download a unique book app that lets you play inside the story.

My conclusion: an app is an app!  It seems to me that an app can be any and all of these things, thus it is a completely unique resource requiring it’s own citation format.

So, where to go from here?  I did some googling for app citation suggestions and came across a few helpful responses.

A member of the California K-12 School Librarians List Serv had a great suggestion that 
mimics the citation for a general website, with a few tweaks that are unique to apps such 
as creator, version and release date. The iPad Journal had an equally helpful response. 
The only difference I noticed between the two is a matter of labeling the medium.   
Should it be iPad or app? 

Is this an issue that has come up in your schools?  How have you responded?

This post was brought to you by HVLA Vice President, Kimberly Pallant

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  1. Fascinating! I never thought about citing an app, but that makes sense. I really like the resources you provided, too. Good stuff.

  2. Hmmm, I wonder if the Modern Language Association has addressed this. I'll check out their web site.