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Texting at the Reference Desk!

Texting at the Reference Desk!

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Texting at the Reference Desk!

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  1. Texting at the Reference Desk! Implementing an SMS-to-Email Service for Mobile Patrons

  2. Keith Weimer Reference and Instructional Technology Librarian Alderman Library University of Virginia Digital Services Humanities and Social Sciences

  3. Alderman Library • Main humanities and social sciences library forU.Va. • Largest collection, houses library administration. • Primary contact point for U.Va. Library email and chat reference. • Culture of experimentation: try a new service or idea; don’t be afraid to fail!

  4. Alderman Reference • Single service desk combining circulation and reference (incl. phone, email and chat). • Reference side double-staffed.

  5. Why Experiment with Text Messaging reference? • Looking for new ways to push out content and enable remote users to connect with us more easily. • SMS is a growing communications medium. • Reach users at points of need not met by phone, email or chat.

  6. What influenced our choice of model? • Phone number not short code and keyword – believed easier for user, more intuitive, can add to Contacts. • Integration with existing reference service—either chat or email. • As little new technology for staff to master as possible.

  7. Upside Wireless • SMS-to-email service, Canadian company. • Pros: • Local phone number. • Integrated with reference email. • Familiar technology. • Can send mass notices (ex., circulation). • Cons: • Expensive--$2000 to set up, $2700/year to maintain.

  8. Advertising the Service: Spring 2008 – “Soft Rollout”: • Link on Library home page. • Information on “Questions” page. • Table tents in main study areas.

  9. Advertising the Service: Fall 2008 -- “Harder Rollout” • Banner on library home page. • Asked subject librarians to promote the service to departments. • Library orientation classes for freshmen. • Posters in libraries, campus center and bookstore.

  10. Growing Use of Service

  11. How is service Being Used?

  12. When is Service Being Used?

  13. When is service being used?

  14. Future Directions • Growing usage, still small compared to other services. Need more time to investigate. • Need to compare data for other types of reference service. • May need to explore cheaper models for service.

  15. New SMS Reference Models: “AIM Hack” • Text 265010, then type library’s AOL Instant Messenger screen name: message (ex., uvalibref: help me!) • Pros: • Free! • Integrated with chat reference service. • User gets immediate response. • Cons: • Method of “texting” not intuitive. • Not available at time of grant.

  16. Questions? Text me! 804-543-9269 Or AOL IM: weimerkeith Email: kweimer@virginia.edu Office phone: 434-924-7702 Thanks!

  17. For more information: • American University Library. (2008). Ask a Librarian: Instant Messaging. Retrieved Oct. 15, 2008, from http://www.library.american.edu/ask/im.html • Hill, J. B., Hill, C. M., & Sherman, D. (2007). Text Messaging in an Academic Library: Integrating SMS into Digital Reference. The Reference Librarian, 47(1), 17-29. • Mosio. (2007-2008). Mosio. Retrieved Sep. 30, 2008, from http://www.mosio.com/ • Upside Wireless. (2008). Upside Wireless Text Messaging. Retrieved Sep. 30, 2008, from http://www.upsidewireless.com