Alice Springs Public Library is exploring outdoor service with Mobile Max

by Julie Gibson, Hitnet CEO & Co Founder

Mobile Max is the brainchild of Hitnet, a company that specialises in providing community information solutions for some of Australia’s harder-to-reach communities.

Max is a first-generation community information hub. His presence at the busy Alice Springs Public Library was part of a 6-month trial between the library and Hitnet. Max evolved from community feedback that access to information was needed outside of the usual sites like clinics, hospitals, libraries and community centres, and preferably outdoors where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people congregate.

Hitnet has installed similar information hubs across Australia in some of the country’s most remote communities, as well as the islands in the Torres Strait.

Max runs off a 12-hour battery, has a Wi-Fi hotspot, mobile phone recharge ports and an easy-to-use touchscreen that displays interactive cultural and social information. The Alice Springs installation includes photo collections from the library’s digital archives, TV news bulletins from the local Yirara Aboriginal College, and other cultural stories (many in language) from local Indigenous content producers.

Despite hotter than average temperatures in the Alice, Max grew in popularity through the summer. Usage by adult males was significantly higher when compared to broader public library use by men from other studies of public library gender usage patterns.

The Alice Springs Public Library staff said that Max gave the library new opportunities to engage with Aboriginal youth. Staff also felt that having local community-based content, health and legal content presented on a versatile platform was a valuable addition to their service offering.

Max’s free wifi supplemented the library’s wifi and provided a redundant service for library users – useful in peak periods and outages.

The Max trial has given Hitnet valuable information to help consider improvements to Max. Library staff say they are keen to utilize Max as an additional content platform for their library services and better link-in existing library data services.

So what’s next?

The trial with Alice Springs Public Library has shown that there’s clearly a role for Max in regional and remote libraries where there are local staff, content, and accessibility challenges – particularly in remote Aboriginal communities that lack access to libraries.

Hitnet’s full report is available here.

For further information, contact Hitnet CEO & Co Founder Julie Gibson