Tag Archives: mobile reference

Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Mary-Carol Lindbloom (Executive Director South Central Regional Library Council)

Today’s library thought leader is Mary-Carol Lindbloom, the Executive Director for the South Central Regional Library Council in New York state.

When did you get started in reference, and more specifically virtual reference?

In the summer of 1999, when a group of us, including Tom Peters, Lori Bell, and Ginny McCoy, met in person at Eureka College (IL) to brainstorm a grant for an academic virtual reference collaborative. Eureka, indeed! Initially, as we thought about the grant, we planned to staff the virtual desk afternoons only. But it was a grant—why not experiment and use that opportunity to explore 24/7 virtual reference? Would students and others really use the service in the middle of the night? The grant application was successful, so we used that opportunity to find out. I was the project director for the grant and Bernie Sloan was the evaluator who analyzed such areas as time of day, days of week, questions, etc. I have only been involved with virtual reference in a collaborative environment—the service was planned, implemented, and delivered collaboratively. That project was called Ready for Reference; a year later we combined with a public library virtual reference service to form My Web Librarian; eventually MWL merged with AskAwayIllinois.

How did you come up with the idea for My Info Quest?

I personally didn’t! Many of us had been working with virtual reference for over a decade at that point, and Lori Bell, who worked at the Alliance Library System in Peoria in 2009, raised the question about SMS texting as a service platform for the 21st century. She was able to secure funding to test this; when the funding ended, the project continued as a library/library system-sustained program. SCRLC had been involved in MIQ from the get-go, so we took over some of the leadership after the Illinois library systems merged.

If you were to start it again, what would you do differently?

I would have a business plan from the get-go. Several virtual reference cooperatives have started with grant funding, and find it very challenging to move from grant funding to library-sustained. I might explore grant funding to study certain aspects of the service, but at the core, there has to be a committed group of libraries willing to pay for the service. There also has to be ample funding for a project coordinator/director and marketing—marketing to two difference audiences (librarians and library users).

What advice do you have to anyone looking to manage a cooperative?

This advice pertains to a virtual reference cooperative! Ensure you have adequate time and funding to devote to the process, including time to evaluate and analyze. If you do not have a general business plan or strategic plan, get with your group and develop one—include goals and objectives. As with all library positions in the 21st century (and all centuries, for that matter!), there are multiple components to manage within a virtual reference cooperative. Be comfortable with ambiguity and change—it is cliché but those are the constants—especially change. In addition to time spent on the actual desk answering questions, in MIQ there are scheduling, marketing, best practices, standards/policies, recruitment, training, and sustainability. Ensure that training is interactive, even at a distance. Sharon Kim, our current coordinator, has used Google Neighborhood and GoToMeeting to train librarians and students (we have student librarians in this service, as well). She developed practice questions that also lead trainees through the service’s best practices. Set up a Google Group to communicate (this is used to sent pointers, meeting notices, participants request temporary desk shift changes, other information, etc.). Try to meet virtually on a regular basis (we have monthly meetings for those who can tune in). Develop working groups, as needed—one wonderful aspect of being part of a collaborative service is that we don’t have to go it alone! MIQ has a culture where participants feel safe and comfortable in expressing and contributing their ideas.

What does virtual reference look like in the future?

Most libraries reachable to their users via virtual reference services! The number of libraries that are not reachable via virtual reference, i.e., SMS text and web-based chat, is amazing to me. In point-of-need service, which many of us try to provide, users/members/patrons must be able to walk in, phone, email, text, or chat up the reference desk. If I recall, according to one of the Pew studies, 31% of texters prefer texting to talking—and that was a study that included young adults but not teens. If we are to stay relevant to future users, we absolutely have to be reachable to users in all ways. I would like to see libraries rival the commercial chat services, e.g., ChaCha—to be the go-to service for questions that increasingly our smart phones can’t answer. And I do think that is a factor. We’re seeing less “ready reference” questions in our service and more library-related. With the increase in smart phone ownership, I think that those folks are finding their own quick answers. VR still enables us to be the human behind the machine! But…it could go the other way—with budget and time challenges, there could be fewer individual libraries offering their users this capability, and cooperatives could dissolve. Hopefully that only occurs in an anti-universe far, far away! My hope: All users are met at their point of need 24/7/365, by librarians—that our libraries are relevant, valued, and supported by our communities! I would also like to see VR become such a standard part of library service that there is no need for lists in the Wikipedia of libraries that offer virtual reference (or SMS text reference). When is the last time you saw a list of libraries that offer phone or email reference?

What is a current trend in libraries that interests you?

Just one? The effect of patron-driven-acquisitions on resource sharing and collection development; trends in texting for information; best practices for continuing education delivered via distance learning; assessment and the relationship between student outcomes and library services.

Ok, now ask us a question.

Where do you see Mosio for Libraries in five-years, including…..any plans for a back-up reference service?

About Mary-Carol Lindbloom: Mary-Carol is the Executive Director for the South Central Regional Library Council. SCRLC is a non-profit, multi-type library consortium, operating under charter by the New York State Board of Regents. It has member libraries located in the counties of Allegany, Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates. The members include academic, corporate, hospital, public, school, and non-profit libraries.

Facebook: South Central Regional Library Council
Twitter: SCRLC
LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mary-carol-lindbloom/6/a85/24a

5 Reasons You Should Have Ask-a-Librarian on Every Page of Your Website


To get the most value out of your library’s services and provide patrons with the highest level of service, it is important to make it as easy as possible for your patrons to connect with those services

The best way to connect patrons with your Ask-a-Librarian service is to have Ask-a-Librarian tabs, links or buttons on every page of your library’s website. Here are five ways that implementing such a strategy with your online reference will benefit your users:

1. All successful advertisers know that the key to getting a message across is through repetition and consistent branding. When your patrons interact with a consistent layout from page to page and see Ask-a-Librarian on every page, you have created the best possible ongoing marketing campaign for your service, with an important added bonus: It’s free.

2. While we can predict some user behavior, we never really know when and where on a website patrons are going to need assistance. A patron may be on a page where the information seems to be straight-forward to librarians, but to an uninitiated patron the information may leave questions. Likewise, a patron may be on one page but thinking ahead to another problem or the next step in his or her research process. Having Ask-a-Librarian immediately available from wherever the patron may be on the library’s website ensures that he or she will be able to connect to help when needed.

3. If a patron is interacting with the library’s website, encounters a problem, and then has to recall where to go to find the Ask-a-Librarian service, the library has not succeeded in making the most of the service’s primary benefit to users – the ability to connect them instantly with a library professional who can solve their problem.

4. Consistent placement of the Ask-a-Librarian tab on your library’s webpages makes marketing the service via social media or flyers much easier. When the Ask-a-Librarian tab is on every page of your library website, there is no need to place an easily forgotten URL (or URLs) on your marketing materials – simply state that the Ask-a-Librarian service is available from every page on the library website and where it is located (“look for our Ask-a-Librarian tab in the upper left-hand corner of any page on the library site”).

5. Each Ask-a-Librarian query that comes from a specific page can help you improve the overall content and design of that page. When you have an Ask-a-Librarian chat box on every page, and you are tracking which pages queries come in from, this gives you the great benefit of an ongoing focus group indirectly telling you what works and what doesn’t work on every page of your library’s site.

Responding quickly to queries will help you provide the top-notch customer service that will keep your library patrons satisfied and returning for more business. To make sure your patrons submit those queries whenever they need help on your library’s site, you should have ask-a-librarian tabs on every page.

 

Mosio for Libraries
Patron Support Simplified
http://mosio.com/libraries

25 Great Text Messaging Acronyms You May or May Not Need to Know for Your Text-a-Librarian Service

Do you speak text?

Mosio_TextSpeak_Translator

Your patrons speak many languages, and you can’t learn them all. But one thing you can do to improve service to your patrons is familiarize yourself with some of the more common terms and phrases in their languages of preference. If your patron is text-savvy enough to be texting his or her librarian, then one of his or her languages of preference is chat and chances are he or she is up on the latest text messaging acronyms.

A great way to enhance chat service for your patrons and maximize your efficient use of time is to become familiar with some of the most common and helpful text messaging acronyms. Speaking your users’ languages, especially in online communications, will help them feel more comfortable and give that personal touch so they don’t feel like they are talking to a robot.

There are thousands of text messaging acronyms, but we want to stick to the ones that can be used in a professional environment and that are not too obscure. These are the ones your users will likely be using, and these are the ones that you should be using as well. You will want to tailor your chat acronym use to each session, gauging each individual user’s chat acronym expertise level by the acronyms that he or she uses him- or herself.

Here is a list of 25 text messaging acronyms which you can add to your arsenal of reference tools.

AAP – Always a pleasure
BIF – Before I forget
BRB – Be right back
BTW – By the way
EOM – End of message
F2F – Face to face
GL – Good luck
HAND – Have a nice day
IANAL – I am not a lawyer
IMA – I might add
IMO – In my opinion
IOW – In other words
ISWYM – I see what you mean
JIC – Just in case
OIC – Oh, I see
OTOH – On the other hand
PD – Public domain
SOW – Speaking of which
THX – Thanks
TTBOMK – To the best of my knowledge
TYVM – Thank you very much
WB – Welcome back
WRT – With regard to
WTG – Way to go!
YW – You’re welcome

The patron texting a question is typically expecting a quick response and librarians need to be prepared to answer text-a-librarian questions promptly. Lots of chat acronyms, such as ROFL and L8R, are designed for close friends. Your users may employ such acronyms, but you will want to restrict your use to the more professional ones such as those in the list above.

And if your patron sends you a puzzling collection of letters and you have no idea what they mean, Mosio’s text speak translator will give you the help you need with its 800+ text messaging acronym definitions.

Library NewsByte: The library is home to not only books, Library launches free mobile app, Vending machines latest library offering from Northland

Members of the public making good use of the Family Mobile Library during its stop at Reayrt y Chrink, Port Erin

Maureen Sullivan, President of the ALA, writes on the Huffington Post about the new Pew study showing that the vast majority of parents place a high value libraries. She discusses what libraries have to offer children and parents, from tangible resources to intangible experiences, such as instilling a love of reading and providing a safe community environment.

Libraries Offer Children Resources Not Available at Home

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One of the intangible items libraries offer to all patrons, is the experience of browsing. This editorial talks about the personal experience of browsing at the library.

Libraries offer more than books – it’s a personal experience

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In this difficult economy, people are finding the library can be an essential resource in finding a job. The Spencer Daily Reporter talks specifically about the ways the Spencer Public Library is helping patrons in their job search. They include access to computers and the internet and books on cover letters, resumes, and job searching. Additionally, the library website has links to skill building resources.

How the library Can Help You to Find a Job!

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Read more about the ways libraries are helping people in these other news items.

The library is home to not only books

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Clive library to launch new online catalog

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Library makes changes

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Parents Value Libraries’ Digital Technologies and Programs, Pew Research Shows

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The New York Public Library Discusses eBook Pilot Projects

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Get the library app

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Even in Digital Age, Libraries Still Considered Crucial to Youth Development by Most U.S. Parents

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College Libraries Transition to High Tech Learning Centers

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Libraries; maintaining a role in the digital world

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Mobile service helping those who can’t get to local library

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B-BP Looking to Shore Up Library Programs, Enhance Technology

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Little Free Library is a great, big idea in little, tiny space

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Shorewood-Troy Library Now Offers Home Delivery Service

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Vending machines latest library offering from Northland

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Magazines go digital at Garfield County Libraries

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More people using libraries with book loans up 3% in 2012

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3D Printing Comes to Sunnyvale Library

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New Rochelle Library is not bed-bug infested

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New Library Program to Try Out Tablets & E-Readers Starts at 10 a.m.

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Library launches free mobile app

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Libraries unite to bump up size of catalog

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The bookmobile gets the digital treatment

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Found and listed by Mosio for Libraries – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

Library Newsbyte: George W. Bush Library Opens to Public, Pew: Parents Love the Library, With Tiny Libraries – Bringing Free Literature to the Streets

Carlsbad libraries work to meet new demands, technology

Carlsbad libraries work to meet new demands, technology

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Many libraries offer adaptive technologies to assist patrons with various disabilities. The Fort Frances library is trying to reach out to the community to let them know about the availability of technologies to assist the visually impaired, which have been in place since the library opened. They include the Topaz magnifier, which magnifies text up to 16X; Ruby, a handled magnifying device similar to Topaz; and SARA, which converts text to speech.

Adaptive technology equipment at library helps vision-impaired

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The Pew Internet and Life Project found that 90% of parents surveyed think that libraries are important for their children, while 80% go further and say they are “very important.” Parents appreciate libraries because of the resources that they provide, and for how they encourage children to be readers.

Pew: Parents Love the Library

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Read more about library services in these other news stories.

Value in the Library

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Groundbreaking Online Library Intrigues Educators

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Evanston Public Library creates new smartphone app

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Kindles add to library’s offerings in technology

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George W. Bush Library Opens to Public

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Libraries have the clout, respect to be leaders in parent engagement: Margaret Bernstein

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Rome library improves Wi-Fi

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New library technology at Schneider Elementary helps students enjoy reading

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British Library’s online harvest will paint ‘rich and vivid picture’ of life in the UK

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Local libraries offer free online magazines

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Library starts lending e-books

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With Tiny Libraries, Bringing Free Literature to the Streets

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Library doubles number of public computers

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Hudson, Litchfield, Lyndeborough libraries embrace open-source software

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Program brings tiny libraries to Bloomington

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One-day survey shows how Washington libraries are used

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County library system offering ebooks

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Digital Bookmobile in the Tri-Cities

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Library takes aim at grownups

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Buhl Public Library Now Offers Audiobooks, eBooks

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New library in Pasco is for whole community

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Houston Public Library serves patrons in all walks of life

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Found and listed by Mosio for Libraries – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

Library News: Digital public library with vast archive opens, ‘Libraries’ come in all shapes and sizes these days, US Presidential Libraries Contribute to Research, Education

Children read at the Centre de Lecture et d'Animation Culturelle (CLAC) in Byblos. [Photo courtesy of CLAC Byblos]

Library director hope smart phone app will help slow declining circulation

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Sacramento library adds 3-D copier to its bag of tricks

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Digital public library with vast archive opens

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Library Usage Increases

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Holyoke to promote child literacy by creating ‘mini-libraries’ at police substations, stocking cruisers with books

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‘Libraries’ come in all shapes and sizes these days

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York County Libraries to release mobile app, YCL Mobile

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lsley Library provides digital local newspaper collections

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Libraries are vital to the community

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Study: People still see value of libraries

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Baylor Central Libraries buys almanac signed by Ben Franklin

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Aztec Library expands technology with free tech classes, smartphone app

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Library continues expanding collection

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Cambridge libraries go beyond the bookmobile

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Library releases app for phones

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Libraries set to provide free wi-fi

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Libraries still relevant today

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US Presidential Libraries Contribute to Research, Education

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Public libraries in Lebanon: a novel phenomenon

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Siouxland libraries strive to be more than just book places

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Public Library Extends Helping Hands for Computer Literacy

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National Library of Scotland to hire ‘Wikipedian’

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George Demko: Library is as relevant as ever in electronic age

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Libraries are a tech and reading hub

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Saving America for posterity at the Library of Congress

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Found and listed by Mosio for Libraries – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

Library News: Laptop-lending kiosks, Library attendance is higher than ever, Libraries Increase Book Digitization

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S.F. library eyes laptop-lending kiosks

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Despite drop in money, library attendance is higher than ever

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Catching on: eBooks gaining popularity at area libraries

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Africa must use digital libraries

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Sno-Isle 1st libraries in state with new e-book system

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African American History Month observed at Houston libraries

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Not dead yet: Libraries still vital, Pew report finds

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Libraries used as social hubs

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Libraries adapt to new media environment

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While bookstores are failing, libraries are thriving

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Libraries increase book digitization

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Library to Launch Mobile Technology Education Series

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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WANTS MOBILE ACCESS OPTIONS FOR STAFF

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PERRIS: Library turns 100 years old

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Pilot program allows free scans at library

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Found and listed by Mosio’s Text a Librarian – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

Answer Text Message Questions With QuestionPoint

Today Mosio’s Text a Librarian goes live with OCLC’s QuestionPoint.  Libraries who are customers of both can choose to have text message questions show up and be answered in QuestionPoint.

Librarians who are staffing QuestionPoint will be able to immediately answer text questions, noticeable by a “TXT MSG” prefix and a new answering interface.

Text message questions and answers will be included in QuestionPoint’s reporting.

Of course, all of your Text a Librarian functionality still works too.  Patrons can still text for instructions, autoresponders will be sent when the library is closed, and message footers will be added to promote library events.  Messages will be threaded inside of QuestionPoint as they are in Text a Librarian, so you can easily carry out a full conversation.

TAL marketing materials are still available from your login, so be sure to promote your service!

As lead developer at Mosio, I want to send a big thank you to OCLC’s team for helping us make this happen. They were all a pleasure to work with.

If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for our weekly webinars.

New! Simple but Effective Feature: Text for Instructions

“Aren’t you oversimplifying this? Yes. That’s the whole point.”

From the Steve Krug’s new book, Rocket Surgery Made Easy

We’ve added a simple, but very effective feature we call “Text for Instructions.”

Simply stated, it means your patrons only have to text your keyword to 66746 for instructions on how to use your service.

What happens next?
1. Your patrons get an auto-responder with instructions on saving your keyword and the number 66746 to their contacts for when they need to ask you a question. The instructions include a link to a mobile web page with detailed instructions in case they need them.

It acts like a registration system that gets them started with your service without having to have a pressing question or message on-the-spot. They save your info in their phones for later when they do.

2. The Mosio system assigns the phone number a PatronID associated with your account, so after that all they need to do is text their question to 66746.

That’s it!

Note: The old way of texting your keyword + their message to 66746 still works, no problem. But this way patrons can see your poster (example below) or promotional materials, text for instructions, then save everything in their contacts when they need it later.

If you’re a Mosio / Text a Librarian customer and want more specific information about it, like how you can customize/edit the instructions, it’s listed in the New Features section inside your account.

Word of Mouth Marketing in Libraries – Info and Articles

Then and Now…

Faberge Shampoo started it all with their famous commercial from the 1970s. Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace nail it in their new article, “The Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing” in the November issue of American Libraries Magazine. We wrote a post called “Word of Mouth: The Best Form of Social Media” as part of our Library Marketing Tips series.

I definitely recommend reading the whole article, but here are short versions of their “Why WOMM?” bullets to get you started:
1. It’s real and immediate.
2. It’s personal.
3. It’s honest.
4. It’s catching.
5. It’s customer-driven.

More Info and Articles

1. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association has a great educational section, WOMMA 101, giving some great initial information as well as their Best Practices Handbook (free in PDF).

2. A great blog post from Marketing Vox containing some stats (and charts and graphs), Real-Life WOM Beats Online by a Wide Margin.

3. About.com article Why Word-of-Mouth Marketing? by Laura Lake.

Shhhhh…don’t tell anybody.
;)