App of the Month – ACM Digital Library

Conference proceedings and society newsletters are notoriously tricky to locate in library discovery layers. As with serials in general, conferences can change names to reflect changes within disciplines, not to mention all those society and conference acronyms. All of which poses not insignificant challenges when searching for such content.

The ACM Digital Library app from the Association for Computing Machinery goes a long way to answering this need. It’s a really great way to get to the journals, magazines, newsletters, and conference proceedings published by the ACM. Content on their main platform is mirrored on their app and full text is available to McGill as part of our ACM Digital Library subscription. Released for iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows devices, this is a free app but users must first sign up for a personal account with ACM using their McGill email address.

The strength of this app is really the streamlined discovery interface offering both browsing and searching content. Its display, text font and size make for easy reading, whether on pad or phone (I tried both), and the app includes links and search options for upcoming conferences with general information, organizers (for example, who is the Program Chair for TEI ’16?) and schedule, where available.

User-customization is also offered. Icon links to favourite ACM journals, magazines or newsletters can be added to the app homepage screen, and binders can be created for reading lists and downloaded articles which are then available offline. Users can also post comments to other app users and share to Facebook or Twitter.

As nothing is ever entirely perfect…there are two caveats which should be mentioned:

  1. This app consistently froze on my iPad if I tried to do anything else (such as change apps, or following a screen lock). Basically, minimizing the app to switch to another one, will make it freeze when re-displayed. I didn’t notice the same problem on Android but on an iPad, you have to swipe away the app to unfreeze it and start over, highly annoying to say the least! Hopefully a future update will take care of the issue.
  2. I found that although the app had my account recorded in the settings, I wasn’t permitted to download full-text at some point. Logging in to my account on the main ACM Digital Library site seemed to reinitialize the app under my login and full-text access was immediately restored. Like the frozen app issue, this was rather frustrating to have to deal with.

That being said, it’s still one of my favourite apps, due mainly to the well-designed interface and attractive text display.

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