The Mobile Website Experience: App vs. Browser

Do you use the library on the go? There are few ways you can use your smartphone when you’re out and about and need to do some librarying.

There are two ways to access library materials and information on your device, and they have different strengths.

  1. Sometimes, the Pima County Public Library app is very useful--especially when accessing your account.
  2. Other times, going to the library website in your browser is better...and there’s a way to get directly to it from your homescreen, just like an app.
The App starts on a nagivable homescreen that allows you to go straight to MyPCPL in the bottom center.  The Mobile Browser is a narrower version of the website, which allows you to move within it much like you would the desktop version. 

Setting up a handy link to the website in your phone's browser is easy. Want to try? Here’s how.

On iPhone:

  • Use your browser to navigate to
  • Using the share link (the box with the arrow pointing upwards) press “Add to Home Screen” (if you have a smaller phone like I do, you might have to scroll a bit to the right to find it)
  • Decide what you want to name it (the default is Pima County Public Library)
  • Press “Add” on the top right.
  • And you’re done!

On Android:

  • Use your browser to navigate to
  • Use the hamburger menu on the top right (three vertical dots) and select “Add to Home Screen”
  • Decide what you want to name it (the default is Pima County Public Library)
  • Press “Add”
  • And you’re done!

Your newly-created, handy link will show at the end of your apps, but if you’re like me, you’ll want to hold it down and drag it to the front (it goes in my dandy Books folder).

Once you have that set, you can access it from anywhere, as long as you’re connected to data or wifi.

Here’s a breakdown of what is easier to do using the Pima County Public Library App vs. the Mobile Browser Website:

Use the app for:

  • My Account:         
    • See what you have checked out and on hold
    • See what holds are available to pick up
    • Renew items that are currently checked out
  • Scanning the ISBN barcode when at a bookstore or when you're out and about and see a great book, then quickly place a hold
  • Browsing recently reviewed
  • Browsing recent arrivals
  • Browsing “just ordered” and NYT Bestsellers
  • Finding your nearest location with a map

Use your handy mobile browser website link for:

  • Navigating the catalog and website pages similarly to desktop
  • Viewing blog posts, lists, and other staff picks
  • Viewing the events calendar similarly to desktop
  • Exploring, searching, and placing holds
  • Connecting to the E-Library's online resources like OverDrive, Kanopy, and research databases
  • Viewing help pages and FAQs
  • Suggesting purchases and requesting InterLibrary Loans
  • Reviewing books and sharing them with your social media contacts
  • Paying your fines
  • Editing your profile and settings
  • Viewing your browsing history, your lists, and your shelves

As you see, you can use the mobile browser in much the same way you’d use it on a computer, so if you’re looking for the full experience, using the mobile website browser link you created is definitely the way you want to go.

Conversely, if you’re looking to take quick actions like check a hold or renew a print book or movie, the app is definitely more useful. If you don't log in to your account anywhere else, the app will also keep you logged in, which allows those quick actions to be even quicker!

So if your question was “Which is better?” the answer is “Neither!” They’re both useful and helpful in different ways. Try them both and see what you think!