Author Archives: nc

About nc

CEO and Co-Founder of Mosio, a mobile agency and the creators of Text a Librarian.

160 characters is a lot more info than you’d think (Mosio lets you send 320 or more, just in case)

We get asked how much information can be shared via text message. Not surprisingly, many people don’t think it is much, even considering the average mobile user manages to share a lot of info with friends, family and co-workers texting from their mobile phones.

In 1984 when SMS (Text Messaging) was invented, Friedhelm Hillebrand decided on 160 characters because it was the average amount of characters that fit on a typical postcard in those he counted. The postcard above (written by Rush drummer Neil Peart in 1984, the very same year SMS was invented) is 254 characters including sign off and his name. If you haven’t seen one of Neil’s drum solos, they are truly amazing, but also a tad longer than your average rock drum solo and worth every second (scroll to the 6 minute mark in the video below if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing).

98.15 Characters (61.4%)

That is the average number of characters in an outbound response from our clients to their patrons, students and customers. The important thing to remember is that ultimately, users understand the medium they’re using. Text messaging is conversational and short, but plenty of information can be shared in a single text message.

So what does 160 characters look like?

Here’s my personal favorite quote (from Charles Kingsley), I try to live by it every day. 159 characters including the quotation marks:
“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”

For Text a Librarian customers who are less like Charles Kingsley and more like Neil Peart, we enabled you to send longer responses, automatically breaking them over several text messages when needed.

Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Lisa Carlucci Thomas

Today’s Library Thought Leader is Lisa Carlucci Thomas, Director of design think do.

We have been exploring the idea of “Patron Relationship Management” (PRM) and it is the theme of this Q&A series. What areas of PRM are you seeing where libraries can benefit the most? What roles can mobile technologies play?
Libraries employ a variety of methods to establish and maintain quality service relationships with customers. Defining a patron relationship management (PRM) strategy ensures that library services align with the vision and goals of the institution and sets the standard for service consistency. As emerging information technologies have driven demand for new library communication channels, we’ve seen increased interest in the use of mobile and social tools to promote interactivity, expand outreach, market programs, and enhance the library service experience across digital platforms, and in our physical spaces, too. PRM tools offer integrated solutions to help libraries identify needs and priorities, obtain and assess feedback, and strengthen customer relationships.

While all libraries strive to deliver timely, effective, and seamless service to their users, many operate with minimal staffing and limited financial resources, which inhibit opportunities to take even modestly innovative risks. When you factor in the steady technological advancements of the last five years alone, combined with the outstanding cultural shift taking place in the way we collectively communicate and interact with information, what’s needed now and what’s realistic for libraries to implement right way become very different conversations. Meanwhile, patron expectations continue to evolve, and mobile users seeking mobile access to library services and collections expect to find what they need readily available. What they’re actually finding ranges from splendidly concise library mobile websites and mobile searchable catalogs to advanced and complex apps; from straightforward SMS reference services to mobile-social communities via Facebook and Twitter; from value-added mobile services (QR codes, augmented reality, place-based digital collections, research guides, and more) to no mobile services at all. How do you prioritize services and engage users across the spectrum of mobile interest? Early adopters are now adept at navigating the mobile information experience, and fledgling users expect those delivering the information to anticipate their needs.

Patron relationship management via text messaging supports mobile users at all levels of engagement by promoting direct, responsive, communication, and allows libraries to address and assess mobile information needs of their unique customer base. Mobile PRM expands the SMS reference concept to combine marketing, outreach, and interactivity to meet a broader need for information services beyond the reference inquiry. A study of the Text a Librarian statistics at Southern Connecticut State University, where I implemented and managed SMS reference from 2010-2011, determined a 60/40 split between reference and non-reference mobile interactions. As more libraries provide mobile offerings, including patron self-service features, mobile payments, room reservations and program registrations, and access to ebooks and digital collections, expect non-reference communications from mobile users to increase.

Social media is such a hot button topic for libraries as well as companies in CRM (Customer Relationship Management). How do you respond to libraries that say “Ok, we have a Facebook Page and a Twitter account. Now what?
Consider how these accounts support the communications and PRM strategy of the organization. Actually, this should be part of the first step, along with determining the name and brand that will be used to represent the organization. If you have the accounts already, make the time to have these discussions retrospectively. Document the organization’s social media objectives and priorities. Include a flexible structure and expect it to evolve. Train staff in social media norms and culture, functional use of the technology, and how and which channels to use for different types of content, and why. Staff the position like any public service. It’s not enough to simply monitor accounts; social media is proactive and interactive. Connect with others and build a network; this is your audience and community. Publish regular content, communicate with and respond to users, set goals, and track and assess progress. Who in the organization will be responsible for delivering timely, informed, interesting, valuable content on a regular basis? If multiple staff members will participate, who will manage the service and ensure consistency? Who will answer incoming questions across the organization’s social media channels and adequately and appropriately represent the organization’s vision and values? Who will manage analytics and report on statistics? Who will determine what content will be archived and how? Social media offers short-term, immediate engagement opportunities which can have long-term effect on consumer interest and loyalty. The advantages are high; the barrier to entry, generally, low. Libraries and organizations can work with partners, peers, and firms like design think do to establish an action plan for implementing and assessing communications, marketing, and PRM strategies via social media.

What is the most innovative new technology you’ve seen or heard about? Is there a way libraries can and should utilize it?
Mobile technologies, and related developments in the mobile-social information environment, are a driving force for innovation today. It’s difficult to pick just one aspect of mobile tech and call it “the most innovative” especially since we’re in a time of constant development, advancement, and growth, and mobile culture has widespread, cross-industry implications. Smart phones, such as iPhone and Android devices, multi-functional e-readers and tablet devices, such as the iPad, B&N Nook, and Kindle Fire are all being used to search, access, store, create, organize and interact with information. This is all still new technology to many of us; and even for the mobile-proficient, next generation devices and new applications with increased functionality and complexity continue to vex and inspire. Furthermore, expanding public interest in mobile services, including access to e-books and digital content, is fueling controversy related to digital publication, distribution, and licensing, for libraries, publishers, vendors, and organizations of all types. Libraries can and should utilize mobile technologies within the context of their organizational priorities and community needs. At minimum, librarians should actively learn about the changes that are taking place in the mobile sphere and consider how mobile technologies, social media, PRM and related innovations fit the goals and objectives of their libraries.

Thanks so much for your time! In closing, what are some great resources (along with contacting you, of course) for libraries looking to improve patron experiences and service?
Selected resources on mobile libraries, mobile culture, and patron self- service:

About Lisa:
Lisa Carlucci Thomas is a nationally recognized librarian and author known for her leadership, innovation, and research on mobile and social technologies. Her expertise includes ebooks, mobile libraries, social media, and technology trends and training. Lisa is the Director of design think do, providing custom creative services and innovation consulting for libraries and information organizations interested in mobile culture and services, ebook workflows and licensing, new media, and professional development programs. Lisa’s recent projects include the Library Journal Virtual Tech Summit: Power to the Patron: From Systems to Services and the Connecticut Library Consortium’s “Trendspotting 2011: eBooks: Collections at the Crossroads” symposium. Lisa is a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker  and 2009 ALA Emerging Leader. She previously managed library systems and digital initiatives at Southern Connecticut State University, and access services and digital collections at the Yale University Library. She writes the Social Eyes column for the Journal of Web Librarianship.

Lisa Carlucci Thomas
twitter: @lisacarlucci

Director, design think do
twitter: @designthinkdo

Do you know a library thought leader (maybe you?) who’d be great for our Q&A series? Contact us! We look forward to hearing from you.

The ubiquity imperative and the economics of attention – The competition for patron engagement

“How many people with short attention spans does it take to screw in a light bulb-wanna go on a bike ride?”

An article from Ryan Lawler on GigaOm the other day, the ubiquity imperative and the economics of attention shines a bright light on the importance of ubiquity among content companies clamoring for the attention of consumers. It struck a chord with me in the context of libraries from the simple fact that patrons are always customers to companies, in and out of the library.

While the post speaks specifically to video content, the message is clear:
“…consumers are now in charge of when and how they [consume] content. No longer content to be stuck to someone else’s schedule, consumers expect to be able to access their favorite content whenever they want and on a wide range of devices. As a result, the media companies that will win are those that recognize the need to be everywhere.” Full GigaOm Article here

Libraries have to be everywhere, on every device, to compete for patron attention. More time and money to spend, more technologies to sign up for and support. Not great news, but also not entirely true.

The strategy many libraries are implementing to solve this: Pick and choose your battles by choosing ubiquitous technologies rather than trying to be everywhere. For example, in mobile technologies, if you want to reach the largest amount of patrons on their mobile phones, you have 2 great choices: voice calls and text messaging. All mobile phones, smart or not-smart (aka “feature phones”) have both capabilities and are used by nearly everyone. At Mosio, we say “texting is the new talking”, not because we don’t enjoy talking to people, but because people are texting more than they’re talking on mobile phones. It’s simple, more efficient and enables time-shifting for busy schedules.

There are some amazing mobile technologies in the world. If we had unlimited resources and time, I’d have a developer working on as many as possible, but I don’t know any organization that has unlimited resources. With mobile messaging utilized twice as much as voice calls on mobile phones in the U.S. and around the world, we happily have our hands full offering solutions available to the largest amount of mobile users.



How Text Messaging Is Changing The World [Infographic]

Text messaging is awesome. So are infographics. An infographic about the power of text messaging? Super sweet.

This infographic from MBA Online showcases some powerful stats about text messaging as a communication medium. A few of our favorites:

* Texting is the #1 most data service in the world.

* 193,430 text messages are sent PER SECOND.

* The feature phone (not smart phone) is the #1 selling electronic product in the world.

We’ll let the infographic take over from here…

Planet Text
Created by: MBA Online

New Text a Librarian Feature – Automatic Generator

Text a Librarian’s Linke Auto-Generator: More Links With Less Characters

We have a handful of new features coming up over the next month, but wanted to quickly let you know about our generator, suggested by our customers as a “great to have” feature. is a handy URL shortening technology that makes it easier to crunch long urls into less characters. Now with Text a Librarian, you can paste a long URL, check the box and it will shorten it for you.

After librarians send the message, if they mouse over the bitly link, it’ll show them what the real URL looks like, see below for an illustration.

More features and exciting updates coming soon!


The Text a Librarian Team

“Text a Librarian? I didn’t know you could do that.”

We always wear our Text a Librarian T-Shirts (especially because we just got them in new colors). To work, on the weekends, whenever. Other than my “You Don’t Like Clowns?” tee from Headline Shirts, my Text a Librarian shirt starts the most conversations of any I wear. People always smile, some understand it immediately, some ask what it is and how it works, but the number one thing we hear is “I didn’t know you could do that!” Then, when we explain the context of it, being able to ask reference questions, see if a book is available and put it on hold, get notices about events happening in the library, the next thing always said is “what a great idea” followed by asking us which libraries offer the service.

Whether you use our service or someone else’s, we encourage you to keep letting everyone know you can Text a Librarian. More people will be pleased to know! :)

Want a Successful Text a Librarian Launch? Skip the Training, Go Straight to Marketing

We talk a lot about library marketing at Mosio. Being that marketing is one of the most important needs in the success and continuation of a business, we believe it’s the same for libraries. From what we’ve seen in the industry over the past few years, those libraries who are great at marketing are doing well, financially, in their communities, etc. There are always exceptions, but it appears to be the case. I was just speaking with someone in client services and they told me about a recent email conversation they’d had with a Text a Librarian customer.

Her question, which is a great one, was:
“Is there anything that you would like us to emphasize, that you wish everyone would do/get?”

His response:
“I think that the best advice that I can give a library is this: Focus on getting the info on how to text in on your patron’s phone as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how much training you do, if your patrons don’t know how to text in or even that you provide the service, you won’t get any questions.”

Go Live, Make Updates
Nearly every successful company in the software as a service industry is known for pushing things live, then improving upon them after customers start using them. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll always be waiting, putting too much effort in areas that have nothing to do with getting it out into the world. We do our best to make responding to questions as simple as possible, within 1 minute of logging in you can figure out how to respond. It might seem like a hidden business pitch, but it’s really the truth.

Focus the “training” on how to educate and market your Text a Librarian service to patrons and you’ll have a great reason to learn the workings of the system.

I hate to waste great content, so I’ve pasted the rest of his advice typically given to academic libraries, below. Our biggest usage at academic libraries comes from libraries who show students how to text them during orientation, literally by having them pull out their phones and text for instructions.

In his words:
“So at academic institutions we’ve seen a lot of success with libraries that pull all of their students aside during orientation and say, “pull out your phones and text (keyword) to 66746.”  Obviously the library can substitute their own keyword.  When a student does that they get the intro Text for Instructions message to their phone.

This makes sure that when that student has a question on their phone 2 weeks later they don’t have to remember the keyword or the shortcode (66746) because it’s already on their phone.  That’s my 2 cents.”

ALA Annual – Thank You New Orleans!

We are finally back into the swing of things after an incredible conference. We’ve been going to annual and midwinter for the past two years, but took a break from exhibiting to focus on meeting personally with clients and partners, deciding to ship the booth and try a new approach. It was so nice meeting new people, existing clients we’ve only spoken to on the phone and we even got stopped randomly on the street in the French Quarter. The food, the food! Definitely one of our most memorable conferences for the dining experiences alone. :)

We got the opportunity to show off our new SMS lists functionality, enabling libraries to use text messaging for outbound alerts and announcements and gave away 250 “<3 Libraries” QR Code buttons which everyone seemed to enjoy.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello and to those who have been following up since. We look forward to continue serving our customers and working with those who are soon to be.


The Mosio / Text a Librarian Team

Experiential Marketing Ideas for Libraries (Guest Post by Andrew Loos from Attack! Marketing)

We saw quite a bit of buzz (positive and negative) about Seth Godin’s blog post The Future of Libraries, some saying he gets it and others saying he misses the point, again (we’re big Bobbi Newman fans here). An interesting post about the post by PC Sweeney mentions library branding and marketing, so we quickly reached out to experiential marketing guru, Andrew Loos from Attack! Marketing (Experiential Marketing Agency), asked him to do a quick brainstorm and guest post some ideas for us.

Experiential Marketing Ideas for Libraries
Ingesting information online is, for the most part, a visual experience.  Books deliver information to us visually, but in a more tangible way.  In a similar vein, its the palpable nature of a library that gives it a distinct advantage over info-fishing, researching or reading online.  If more librarians looked at this distinction as a marketing advantage, than a cross they’ve been chosen bear, they may see a resurgence in traffic.  Well… maybe.

This is not a “Let’s make Libraries cool to everyone!” post.   This is a collection of experiential ideas libraries could use (or may have used) to make them current, fun and generally approachable to more people.  Brands can always use more customers and libraries can always use more patrons. I suppose that makes this a “Let’s make libraries relevant to anyone who may consider them irreverent and dated!” post.  For best results, please print this and tape it to the first page of your favorite book before reading.

1) “Love Thy Theater” (Co-Brand)
Since people are never going to just stop going to movies, the best thing libraries could do is collaborate with them.  A perfect opportunity to really illustrate that almost all movies start out as (drumroll please)… BOOKS! Whether this is in a literal sense where a film has been adapted from a novel or in cerebral sense where characters, scenarios, plot-points or just general ideas have been “borrowed” from a book, this is an opportunity to show kids that the majority of the movies they watch are actually derived from the “dead” papers (standby for a “NO WAAAY!” moment here).

Here’s how you make the experience meaningful – work with local movie theatres to give away movie passes to kids who read the book from which the movie was adapted (or within the same theme.  The idea here is to get kids reading books of the movies they already love.  By tightening the parallel between the two you not only get people reading more, you enhance the experience they have with the book AND the film.

2) Scavenger Hunt (Community Branding)
Millions of characters, locations and plots, mountains of cataloged information and all of it spread out in a single venue.  Let’s face it, libraries are the most natural place on the planet to have a scavenger hunt.  Bring in kids of all ages in the community, have them form teams and set them loose on a half day adventure around the library looking for clues, physical clues, of any subject matter in the world.  Not only is this a fun, interactive educational experience for anyone who participates, it gets them familiar with the lay of the land within the library.  Purposely take them on a hunt that leads them through every stack, by every reference desk and in front of every computer lab in the space.  They’ll know where everything is at and feel much more comfortable navigating their way through the next time they’re back.  And, yes, they will be back.

3) “Its all good” – (PR Concept)
An ongoing promotion where the library is willing to forgive-and-forget by paying all Late Fees to get people back in the doors.  It would be interesting to throw in a “fun-barter” element here, as well.  Overdue fees are paid if you come in and read to kids for an hour (promotes community involvement), take a tour of the new facility (Shows off new features and gives patrons a reason to come back and use them) – think of this as a reunion of sorts with people you have not seen in a very long time.  A light-hearted act, but one of kindness nonetheless – whether you feel your library needs to loosen up or not, this is a step in that direction. Sidenote: I don’t know how much money libraries make from late fees (I remember reading awhile back that it was 15% of Blockbuster’s revenues), so that amount of money might have to be weighed against the buzz generated for the concept.

4) Quiz Show
Add a gaming element by doing a weekly quiz show.  All questions are centered around one weekly showcased book.  Quiz questions, small but fun prizes (could be donated by local businesses)  – brings community together.

5) “Book Club Host Certification”
I realize many are doing this already, but it’s worth mentioning: Libraries should want to host as many book clubs, as possible.  It brings in new patrons, strengthens the relationship it has with existing customers and creates an aura of openness with the community it resides.  It is also to the library’s advantage to make book clubs as fun as experience as possible for those attending.  Through Attack!’s work on the Underground Book Club in recent months, I have had the opportunity to attend several book clubs.  I can tell you that these are not the same book clubs my Mom used to drag me to as a kid.  I witnessed attendees reading passages in character, many of them in costume as characters in the book.  I saw supporting games and contests.  I saw an INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE.  And I saw one important thing holding all of them together: a moderator.  A moderator who knew their members, encouraged involvement and lead the discussion and activities beginning-to-end.  If libraries want book clubs to stick, they need to “train” people on how to manage and maintain them in a way that keeps them interesting.  If the librarians could offer free “Book Club Training Classes”, complete with a “Starter Kit” and a time/place within the library to hold it, you’ve won.  You’ve empowered people to get creative, provided a venue and offered ongoing support to help it thrive.  You’ve built it, they will come.


About the Author:
Andrew Loos co-founded Attack! 2001 as a way to apply his passion toward the experiential marketing movement that was sweeping the marketing industry. In his current role as CXO, Andrew has built Attack! into one of the largest guerrilla marketing, field support and event staffing companies in the country. As a progressive force in the industry, he’s authored several articles in trade publications such as Promo Magazine and Chief Marketer, EXPERIENTIAL TO COLLEGE CLASSROOMS and was recently a guest speaker at Google for ForumCon 2011. He lives with his wife, son and two dogs in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles, all of whom agree that Andrew is equal parts awesome and amusing. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn.

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Should your library implement a Foursquare strategy? Only 17% of mobile users check in.

We’re all susceptible to hype, especially those of us in the mobile technologies industry. Hype is fun, it’s great getting excited about things. There has been a huge buzz building in the library space over the past year or so regarding Foursquare, Facebook Places and other location based services (LBS). When David Lee King (a librarian, blogger and thought leader we hold in high regard) wrote a post in January 2010 called “Foursquare and Libraries – Definitely Something There!” we watched carefully and yes, some of us signed up and regularly checked in. I personally tried 3 mobile apps (Foursquare, Gowalla and MyTown) for 2 months to see which one I liked best (Gowalla had the best design, MyTown had the best gaming element, Foursquare made me Mayor of my pet food store). I now use Facebook Places when I decide I want to check in.

Mashable’s post today, “Why Mobile Users Aren’t Checking In [Infographic]“, caused some mixed feelings around the office. Some of us were surprised to find out only 17% of mobile users “check in” to Foursquare and Facebook Places, others weren’t surprised at all. Should libraries implement a mobile technology strategy that appeals to less than 83% of patrons? It’s not really for me to say, but this report and infographic on the “reality behind the hype” is definitely eye opening for any organization deciding what to spend resources on in staying relevant using mobile technologies.

Random Four Square Fact (the real game): This year on February 25 and 26, 15 students from Manchester College broke a world record by playing Four Square for 30 hours. (via: Wikipedia)