Tag Archives: research

7 Things Library Customers Want NOW | Customer Service and Library Patrons

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7 Things Library Customers Want NOW

What attracts library customers to today’s libraries? The rise of mobile culture and the smart phone society brings a dynamic shift in expectations about how, when, and where to access information. Endless media streams, interactive news feeds, and autonomous research options provide numerous avenues for information-seeking customers. What factors draw their attention to the library, rather than a crowdsourced data channel, commercial service, or search engine?

1.    Convenience. Mobile customers use text messaging constantly and carry on multiple conversations concurrently. Libraries offering SMS services to manage reference, information, or patron relationships fit seamlessly into to this information exchange and can interact directly with the customers at the point of need.

2.    Community. Libraries serve an essential role as a leading provider of educational programs, local events, after school and family activities, and employment and business resource centers. Announcements, notifications, mailing lists, newsletters, and social media are effective options for community interaction, library marketing, and advocacy.

3.    Immediacy. Libraries partner with other libraries around the city, county, state, and country, and make use of these established networks to connect readers and researchers with necessary information. From integrated request systems to on-site kiosks, libraries support patron self-service, both inside and outside of library buildings.

4.    Accuracy. Librarians deliver experienced, trained, and intuitive support to readers and researchers seeking specific content. Rich collections are enhanced by a curator’s historical knowledge, detailed research questions are handled by subject specialists, and so on. Library services delivered via IM (instant messaging), allow librarians to handle complete questions while providing direct access to supporting documentation and online resources.

5.    Customization. Once accurate content is identified, librarians provide expertise, synthesis, analysis, feedback, and references, without bias, in the context of the inquiry.

6.    Privacy. Libraries’ privacy practices are published and non-negotiable: private records are not made public, sold to advertisers, or shared with other agencies.

7.    Service. Regular library users recognize the value of direct support, local context, and personal attention. These strengths, built and enhanced through patron relationships, set outstanding libraries apart from the competition.

About the Author
Lisa Carlucci Thomas is the Director and Founder of Design Think Do, providing innovation and technology consulting to libraries, publishers, and information partners. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisacarlucci

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Reference Librarians: SMS / Text Messaging Skills Are Not Needed, Your Research and People Skills Are

Reference Librarians: SMS Skills Are Not Needed, Your Research Skills Are
Reference Librarians: SMS Skills Are Not Needed, Your Research Skills Are

As excited as I am to see that more and more libraries are seeing the value of offering text message reference service to patrons, I find it troublesome to read posts and articles claiming that “librarians need SMS skills now.” It’s unnecessary pressure being put on an already tough job market at a time when new technologies are flying quickly at everyone in the working world at an alarming rate. Texting in the U.S. is more popular than talking on mobile phones and you can bet that a large % of your patrons send texts on a regular basis, regardless if you are at a public, academic or corporate library. SMS reference services increase your patron outreach, provide them access to you wherever they are and mobile reference is definitely here to stay. But to say that this increase in text message usage means you need to get skills doing the same is like saying English teachers need skills in rapping because many of their students are writing hip hop rhymes. It’s helpful for them to be aware of and embrace it, but it’s totally unnecessary for them to grab a microphone and sign up for the next MC battle they can find.

Although a handful of us are active participants, being a texter is not a job requirement at Mosio / Text a Librarian. In fact, if a candidate stated that they sent/received 200 texts a day or that their last phone bill had 10,000 SMS messages on it, I would sincerely question what they spent their days doing. In fact, one of the people doing our market research is not a texter. Do you know what that person is great at? Research. That’s why we hired him, that’s why we love his work. He knows a lot about the mobile industry and can find information for us faster than anyone I’ve ever met. His skill set in research and his abilities to produce it for us is why he is here.

Should your library embrace and offer text messaging reference services?
Absolutely, according to many librarians and from the hustle and bustle of things around the office at Mosio, the entire industry sees it as a need.

Should you run out and buy a smart phone and get on a SMS plan so you can learn how to communicate with your patrons utilizing the SMS reference service?
No, unless you want to. If you’re curious and you want to try it out, we think that’s great. If you feel that it’s a big part of the future of libraries and think your library should offer it, even better. That is the most important part.

Here are three reasons why you don’t need to have SMS skills:

1) Mobile phones are an inefficient way to answer reference questions.
Texting on a phone is not and will never be faster than typing on a computer. Mobile data speeds will never be faster than internet speeds. Phone processors will never be faster than computer processors. Even if you send and receive twice as many text messages per day than the average American teenager, it doesn’t mean everyone else does and you still will not be able to help patrons faster.

2) You have and use a computer connected to the internet.
You don’t need a gadget along side the computer you use at the reference desk. If your library just bought a phone and signed a 2 year contract so you could offer text messaging reference, I’m sure there’s an element of excitement about having the phone at the library. The form factor is cool, but  you don’t need a phone, you just need the computer you’re already using.

3) There are better things you can do with your time to be of great assistance to patrons.
In a glance at five job posts/descriptions for reference librarians, there are three keywords that I found show up consistently: research, resources and experience. Patrons need you to help them find information, they don’t need you to be a good texter.

Our belief in this is why we chose the tagline “Patrons text questions. Librarians type answers.” Text a Librarian’s technology enables libraries to implement text messaging reference at their libraries without SMS skills. Patrons have those skills, but if you don’t, you’re not alone and we’re here to help.

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