Tag Archives: Text Message Reference

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.

Text a Librarian Video – Text Messaging Reference Software for Libraries

Progress As Promised – The Future Value of Software as a Service for Libraries

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“Here is the prime condition of success: Concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it.”
- Andrew Carnegie

My favorite thing about working at Mosio is that every day we get to come into work and improve ourselves, our product and our relationships with customers. Aside from the positive attitude and action from those who work here, our business model, offering on-demand mobile reference software as a service for libraries, enables us to create, test, launch, listen and then improve upon our product in an ongoing fashion. Text a Librarian is better today than it was yesterday and it will always be better tomorrow.

What Does it Mean? Ongoing Improvements and Progress as Promised.

Since we launched in beta almost a year ago, we have added literally dozens of features and improvements to the service, all of it based on feedback from our customers and those who have commented or offered ideas for improvements. All have been taken into consideration in our ongoing development of the service. We welcome constructive criticism and feedback and in fact, we live for it. Ideas and feedback from librarians enable us to make at least 2 major feature updates per month plus a handful of user interface, usability and back end improvements to the system.

Ultimately what this means is that if you read or send a comment about our product, chances are we have too and are looking into it. Truthfully, not all ideas and suggestions are feasible: for example, we have heard “why can’t the page auto-refresh when a new question comes in?” In theory this suggestion sounds great, until you are in the middle of answering a question and the page refreshes, quickly making your answer box a moving target. Other improvements, such as RefStart, have been made based on listening to the wishes of librarians and coming up with our own solution.

Why We Do It

The simplest answer is “because we can.” Compared with any other options libraries have for mobile reference solutions, we strive for ours to be the best. Being the best means always improving, always making the system more secure, scalable, more collaboration-friendly, easier to set up, easier to use and more robust with reporting. What it means for you and your library is that by signing up for our service, you’ll always have a product that gets better and better, built by people who love hearing what you think as you use it. The biggest compliment we hear is “I wish we could answer all reference questions this way.” Our standard response: “We’re working on it.” =]

One that you can always bet on with Mosio/Text a Librarian is that in pursuit of our goal to be the best, we’ll always be looking to out-perform and out-service any other mobile reference solutions available to libraries. We’ll always be doing this through listening, taking great notes and offering a little bit of personality with our customer service. What this means for libraries is that in their pursuit of being the best, once they sign on with our technology, they get the benefit of ongoing updates and feature-adds to make their services more robust and user-friendly without having to buy or license additional services/software.

You can see a standard list of Text a Librarian features on our website, or if you are a current Text a Librarian customer, click on the New Features link inside your Quick Links module when you’re logged into the system.

Library Marketing Tips, Part 4: a Tool, a Trick and a How-To

Library Marketing Tips Part 4: Tools, Tricks and How Tos

There are enough topics around the subject of library marketing for an entire blog. In fact, Jill Stover posted to her blog, Library Marketing, Thinking Outside the Book, for 3 years and it has some amazing ideas. That said, we’re on the final week of Library Marketing Tips, so we’ve decided to throw in a few Tools, Tricks and How Tos to think about, try out and share. If you’re finding this post randomly, you might be interested in parts 1-3, linked below.
Library Marketing Tips, Part 1: Avoiding the Noise (Templates Inside)

Library Marketing Tips, Part 2: The Morning News, Videos and Slideshows

Library Marketing Tips, Part 3: Word of Mouth, the Best Form of Social Media

Tool – Google Analytics

This is one of our favorites. Google Analytics allows you to go extremely deep with information about your site, but what makes us love it in its simplest form is that it lets you see where people are coming from (other webistes and search terms), what they are doing on your site while they are there (which pages get the most clicks and traffic) and at what point they left (exit pages). It’s free to sign up with a Google account and requires you to paste some code into your website. This may take a “pretty please” to your webmaster or IT Manager, but it’s well worth it and once they enter the code, you have access to the information on your own, requiring nothing else from them (unless what you find out about your site should be changed to provide a better experience for visitors).

Here are two blog posts (The Huge Collection of Google Analytics Tips and Google Analytics Maximized: Deeper Analysis, Higher ROI & You) that give a little more detail on what you can do when you’re ready, but after getting the GA code on your site, here are a few things to get you started:

1. Traffic Sources – This lets you know how visitors found you, via websites and search terms. This one is great because it can help you see whether your Facebook page and/or Twitter Tweets are worth the effort (you’ll find they will be). One thing Google Analytics has helped us find out: People search for our name over a dozen different ways to get to our site, including misspellings (“text a libranian”).

2. Content – This one is great because it shows you where people are going on your site, the busiest pages. You can see how many patrons are visiting your “Ask Us” or “Ask a Librarian” page and if it’s not up to par with some other pages, find the one most visited and make sure there is a prominent link to that particular page to see how you can direct more traffic to encourage patrons to ask questions (or more specifically, how to utilize your new text message reference services).

3. Site Overlay - As a part of the Content section, Site Overlay is where things get really interesting. It puts an “overlay” (as the name suggests) on top of your site and then gives you %s on where people are clicking to when they’re on that page.
There are many other great tools that are part of the Google Analytics package, but these are a great place to start seeing how people are finding your site and what they’re doing once they get there.

Trick – The “Marketing Possibilities are Everywhere” Exercise

This isn’t so much a “trick” as in a magic trick, but more of an exercise in getting your mind to think about all of the places where marketing can take place. If you’re already a marketing oriented person, you may already do this, but if not, it’s a great exercise. For a whole week, challenge yourself each day to write down at least 1 unique way of marketing a service that isn’t already being used. It’s ok if you find out later that it already is, it’s the exercise that’s important.

Example: Every time I fly, I wear my Mosio T-Shirt. Why? Besides the fact that I love it and that it’s very soft, there are thousands of people at the airport, including a few hundred that will be on the plane with me. Those are all brand impressions, I literally see people looking down at the logo. Plus, in some cases, someone will ask “What is Mosio?” and I get an opportunity to talk about our company and what we do. Our shirts are intentionally simple. No huge letters or slogans, no website addresses, just the logo, making it the only thing the eyes can focus on. We offer Text a Librarian T-Shirts on a site called Spreadshirt. We don’t make any money from them, people pay what we pay, but this is another great opportunity to promote your service or strike up a conversation about the service.
Mosio T Shirt
(You always get a second chance to make a brand impression)

So what ideas can you think of? What places would be great to put a marketing message? Write them down, 1 or more a day, for a week and see how your thinking has changed. After finishing the exercise and thinking about marketing for a week, begin thinking about the areas and places where you could market your own library services. See what new comes to mind and how it can be done in your library or community.


How To – Manage Social Media Presence Multiple Places

So you have a presence on: Myspace, Facbook, Twitter, FriendFeed, etc, etc, etc, and managing them all can be a hassle. First, we’re not advocates of having an account on every social network on earth. In fact, we think it’s better to have fewer with focused strategies on how you’ll use them. Even adding 2-3, plus your own website, email newsletters, printed materials and anything else can be a full time job in and of itself. Luckily, there are several tools you can use to help you manage your social media output.

HelloTxt - Originally, I was going to post about how you can use the Facebook Twitter Application to post Tweets to your Library’s Facebook page, but with the sporatic reports of the Twitter App on Facebook not working I thought it best to write about another useful site called HelloTxt, that has been gaining steady growth since I first heard about it more than a year ago. It lets you post once and updates to any of 45 social networks through their APIs. If the last thing you want to do is join another “thing” (we can understand this), then we at least want to give you the link to the Twitter Facebook App that lets you post your Twitter tweets to your Facebook Page’s Wall.

Start Pages - We recently wrote a post about how you can use start pages as virtual reference tools, it included Netvibes, Pageflakes and iGoogle, all of which can be also used as a way to manage multiple places at once. In fact, they are the absolute best way to do that. Each has varying options for widgets, gadgets, flakes, modules, etc (they differ in what they’re called based on the service, but all mean the same thing). They give you quick access to: Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Twitter, Digg, Delicious, 43 Things, blogs and a handful of email programs.

So that’s all of them, Library Marketing Tips 1-4. We hope you learned some ideas on how you can better promote text messaging reference services to your community. Mobile messaging is growing at a rapid pace in the U.S., there is a lot of excitement around the mobile channel, so getting the word out to patrons and your community gives you an opportunity to extend your outreach by expanding the walls of your library on mobile devices.

Start Pages as Library Virtual Reference Tools: Pageflakes and iGoogle

Start Pages as Library Virtual Reference Tools

We realize that start pages have been talked about in the library community for several years. Michael Stephens wrote a great piece on start pages about 18 months ago (originally written in Computers in Libraries in April of 2007) and Dr. Joyce Valenza recently wrote a piece called “netvibes enhanced!” on the School Library Journal in May of 2009. These posts are very helpful in showing how start pages like Netvibes, PageFlakes and iGoogle can all be utilized as “library info-portals” which is absolutely true. What we’re finding interesting (and Michael Stephens mentions it in his piece) is how these start pages can be used as a time-saving, virtual reference efficiency tool.

The Unquiet Librarian wrote a quick blog post called “netvibes recognizes itself as a virtual library/reference pathfinder” and there was a lot of excitement around the office when we saw her post. We actively read and discuss posts and “how to” pieces by Aaron Tay on his blog “Musings About Librarianship.” We’re fans, love how he shows as much (if not more) than he tells how to get crafty with technologies and try to follow the same educational elements in our blog as he does in his.

A Quick Note About RefStart

It’s no secret that we’re about to launch a beta version of RefStart, a project we’ve been working on since April, which is a standard feature within Text a Librarian giving librarians one-click access to reference tools, search, web 2.0 sites and popular social networks. We announced and actively showcased it at ALA Annual in Chicago last month and got an amazing response, there are two main reasons we think this is the case:
1. Budget cuts and layoffs are making everyone need to be more efficient.
2. There are new web 2.0 and social media services popping up all the time.

Why Start Pages?

The reason we love start pages and think they’re great reference tools is because they are versatile, customizable, can be accessed from anywhere and if a new social media or web 2.0 service pops up and your library is part of it, chances are you can add a widget, gadget or module to have quick access to it. Also, they can be made private (the 3 services we’re listing below default to private), giving you the ability to have your personal information there or share it with colleagues behind a user id/password. Need more info on how start pages can be used to be more productive? Check out the SlideShare presentation iGoogle for Productivity and Outreach by PF Anderson, April 2009 at the bottom of this post. It has some great screen shot examples and info on how iGoogle can be used to be more productive.

3 Start Pages You Can Use

Rather than do a point by point break down of each (here’s a break down of them from PC Magazine if you’re interested in that), I’ve simply pasted a screen shot with a quick description of each. Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice on what you want. In the efforts of guidance, I will say that a large number of people at Mosio/Text a Librarian use iGoogle, but we created reference start page templates in Netvibes and Pageflakes (some might say they are reference tool overkill, but it was sort of the point) as part of RefStart. The templates are public, so anyone can use or copy them. The screen shots for them are below as well as a link to them.

RefStart Template Use #1
If you really like our templates and want to use the reference resources inside as is, by all means please feel free to do so. They are for public use. You can bookmark your favorite template and use it without registering on Nitevibes or Pageflakes or having to create your own page.  The limitation of this use is that you cannot move/add widgets or personalize it in any way (i.e. you can’t add/manage your social networks via one of our templates).

RefStart Template Use #2
If you like a lot of our widgets and resources, but you want to be able to add new widgets and personalize everything, we recommend signing up for the service of your choice. Once you have your own start page, you can go back to our templates and simply copy the modules/widgets from the template on to your page. This is really the best use as you are able to manage your own page.
Note: iGoogle does not allow public access of personal start pages (except for a few celebrities as of late).

1. iGoogle

iGoogle has thousands of “gadgets” that can be easily added and shared. The iGoogle page shown below features Delicious, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Gmail, Bookmarks and YouTube Gadgets. Click on the iGoogle title above to browse features and/or sign up.

iGoogle Library Reference Tools Start Page

 

2. Pageflakes

Pageflakes is very easy to work with. The Pageflakes RefStart Template below features Facebook, Twitter, a handful of virtual reference search bookmarks/links, Google, Rollyo Search and a CNN RSS feed. The best thing about these start pages is the ability to copy pages or modules that you like. You can copy individual modules from our template or the whole page after you sign up to create your own Pageflakes page. Clicking on the image below will take you to the RefStart Pageflakes Template.

Pageflakes Library Reference Tools Start Page

3. Netvibes

Update (11/12/09): Netvibes started “frame busting” so we can longer recommend them as a useful addition to RefStart. If you’re a die-hard Netvibes fan, we don’t blame you, it’s a cool service, but we recommend using either iGoogle or Pageflakes with RefStart for a better experience.
The Netvibes RefStart template below features Facebook, Twitter, a handful of virtual reference bookmarks/links, Myspace, Delicious, Flickr, Twitter Search, Google Calendar, YouTube search and an RSS feed from ALA TechSource. Like Pageflakes, you can copy any module/widget you like, so if you create your own Netvibes page, you can then come back to our RefStart Template and copy whatever parts you like and add them to yours, all in a few clicks. Clicking on the image below will take you to the RefStart Netvibes Template.

*UPDATE*
We have been experiencing some difficulties with the bookmarking widgets in Netvibes when using IE explorer. All seems to work fine with other browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.). We’ll continue to work on a solution. In the meantime, try a different browser if you’d like to view &/or copy the links to the reference sites/logins on Netvibes. Thanks.

Netvibes Library Reference Tools Start Page

So that’s about it, 3 start pages that can be created, copied, edited and are accessible anywhere. Start pages will continue to evolve as more developers create widgets and gadgets for them and don’t see them going away any time soon. The templates are only a part of the RefStart application soon to be released in Text a Librarian. If you are interested in signing up for a live demo of Text a Librarian to see how start pages integrate with RefStart, you may do that here.

 

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Using a Mobile / Cell Phone for SMS Text Message Reference Services at Your Library: Thoughts for Consideration

Martin Cooper: Invented the cell phone

Why can’t we just use a phone to handle SMS reference services?

We get that question a lot. It is a great question seeing as mobile phones provide the “truest” form of SMS communications – similar to listening to a vinyl album on a record player.

Our answer usually goes something like this: You can…BUT… given the emerging library technologies available to manage text message reference, mobile phones are very inefficient by comparison.

As we have highlighted before, text messaging is now the preferred method of communication for Americans on the go. Libraries have the opportunity to connect with patrons anywhere (and vice versa) with SMS. The features and functionality of services that are built to manage text messaging without a phone are making the entire SMS reference experience better from librarian to patron, and including administration.

Here are some of the points we reference when answering this FAQ

* Texting vs. Typing
Texting is not and will never be faster than typing. Mobile data speeds will never be faster than internet speeds. Phone processors will never be faster than computer processors. As an efficiency tool, the mobile phone will never match a computer. Even if you personally send and receive twice as many text messages per day than the average American teenager, it doesn’t mean your associates do.

* Single-user access.
1 phone = 1 librarian, answering 1 question at a time. Receiving and responding to SMS patron inquiries using a mobile phone eliminates any possibility of efficient collaboration.

* Reporting is nearly impossible.
We say “nearly impossible” because mobile carriers will send a bill every month and users can see how many messages were sent and received, time/date/etc, but all data must then be entered somewhere else manually. The other option is maintain an ongoing call log, which is also manual and sounds as fun as filling out a time-sheet to prove you’ve been at work from 8-5 all week.

* Text message transcripts via mobile phones are non-existent.
We don’t know of any phones that allow a user to download text message conversation transcripts. They can be manually typed out, or some phones allow forwarding individual text messages to an email, but not entire conversations, so it would be necessary to send multiple messages to an email account, piece them together into a conversation, then upload them to a database. If this is not done, then there is no archive or living database of the types of questions received and answers given.

* Patron history is extremely limited.
Referencing past patron questions on a phone is not an option as a phone’s SMS inbox gets full. If old texts are not deleted, new texts will not be received. Once again, entering transcripts manually is the only solution.

* Phones are not collaboration-friendly.
Some people are better suited at answering certain questions than others. If those people are standing right next to you, you’re in luck. If not, the process you have to go through to get them to help you assist a patron is, at best, an inefficient challenge involving several pieces of technology. The only exception to this is if you literally throw the phone to that person, which can be done, but brings up the next point.

* Mobile phones break, get lost, stolen, need charging and become obsolete.
If you think this is a weak point then please feel free to move ahead to the next one. That said, there’s a strong likelihood that 1 of the above, if not all, has happened to your phone. Stuff happens, and when it happens to your phone, other stuff needs to happen causing a disruption in the very service you are aiming to provide.

* Patron privacy and security
The fact is that mobile phone number confidentiality plays by a different set of rules than email or IM. As an organization, it is important to determine the limits of your library’s liability by storing patron phone numbers on a handheld device that could get lost, stolen or hacked.

* Phones lack easy answer template options for FAQs.
Imagine having to text your library hours time…and time…and time again. Sure, you can save a draft of a FAQ or access a word doc in your phone, then copy and paste – if your phone allows these functions – but it’s pretty obvious that is not the best use of anyone’s time.

* Technical and customer support is not dedicated, quick or easy.
To some people, calling mobile carrier support gives the same feeling as visiting the DMV. Best to have a good book available. Regardless of what your feelings are about the customer or technical support of your mobile carrier, if something goes wrong, you just want it fixed as quickly as possible. While some carriers are known to have better customer service than others, we’ve never heard anyone talk about it being a quick or pleasant experience. Keep in mind, mobile carriers handle their service only. Technical support for the mobile phone itself is handled by the manufacturer.

* Phones are not scalable.
As the popularity and use of your SMS reference service increases, so do issues related to management, collaboration, reporting and efficiencies as mentioned throughout this post.

* Phones are not that cost-efficient.
We can’t possibly list all of the phones and plans available by mobile carriers, but there are some simple costs of using a phone to consider. Using a reliable mobile phone carrier (getting good reception in the library) with a QWERTY keypad is the first place to start. Basic math on the most stripped down phone & plan = Price of phone + Price of plan(s) + Activation Fee + Taxes + Insurance.

After taking some time to research phone costs, consider the cost of your or your staff’s time: texting rather than typing, transcribing SMS reference conversations, compiling data for statistics and reporting, waiting on hold with carriers or manufacturers if something happens to the phone or service.

If you’re wondering, here’s the cheapest cost for an iPhone on AT&T:
iPhone 3G (old) – $99 or 3Gs (new) – $199
One time activation – $36
Data Plan (required for life of phone) – $30 per month x 12
Voice Plan (min. voice plan required) – $40 per month x 12
Text Message Plan ($5 / $15 / $20) – $15 per month x 12
Taxes – $3 per month x 12
Insurance – $5 per month x 12

TOTAL = $1251 per year x 2 year contact = $2502

[By the way, we LOVE iPhones. We have them and Text a Librarian works great on both the iPhone and iPod Touch. That said, every issue presented above applies to the iPhone.]

In case you are still reading [enter crickets chirping], there’s one more thing to consider: Companies that build services for libraries have a vested interest to make sure their solutions are the best available for librarians. The good ones listen to feedback and not only respond, but anticipate, changes and trends in technology in the library industry.


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Thanks for reading.

Ps. We realize that there are some libraries out there that are currently using a mobile phone to handle SMS reference. If it is working for you and your library, great! That said, if you are now looking to implement text message reference, it’s worth weighing all options to determine what will work best for your library and staff.

Facts and Figures: Mobile Text Messaging Usage in the U.S. (An Opportunity for Libraries)

We <3 Mobile

We hear a lot of feedback regarding text messaging from both ends of the spectrum. Some understand and are part of the mobile messaging explosion in the U.S. and others need a little more convincing.

While we don’t send 470 text messages per day (we have plenty of work to do around here), we love text messaging, understand that it might be better to provide some industry facts regarding text messaging usage and show why we’re seeing more and more libraries embrace the mobile channel as an effective addition to reference services. We’ve compiled a quick list for you with links to the reports where possible, will add more as we find them and if you have any, please let us know or post them in the comments section.

  • On average, Americans send and receive twice as many text messages as phone calls per month. (Nielsen Mobile)
  • U.S. Teens (ages 13-17) sent and received an average of 1,742 text messages per month in Q2 2008 (Nielsen Mobile)
  • In 2008, teens and twenty-somethings were by far the largest users of texting, coming in at 85%. In 2009, this continued to be true with teens at 94% and 20-somethings at 87%, but usage also increased for older age groups. Among those in their 40s, usage jumped from 56% to 64%, and for those in their 50s it jumped from 38% to 46%. (The Vlingo Consumer Mobile Messaging Habits Report, May 20, 2009)
  • A new online survey of mobile users (sample size not disclosed) conducted in January, 2008 by Amplitude Research has found the following features and considerations to be most important among cell phone buyers:
    * Text messaging: 73%
    * Camera: 67%
    * Ability to access the mobile Internet: 61%
    * Music features: 34%
    * Video: 33%
  • Medical and Policy Experts Agree Wireless Technology Makes Healthcare More Efficient, Effective, and Patient-focused (CTIA Wireless Association)


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Library Marketing Tips, Part 1: Avoiding the Noise (Templates Inside)

Library Marketing Services

There are quite a few books on the topic of library marketing, and OCLC’s Geek The Library Campaign is definitely getting people talking, but this post is the first in a weekly series talking about marketing text messaging reference services in your library. We think they work well for any other services you offer, use what you like. The mobile channel isn’t going away, people in the U.S. every day are texting more than they are talking and they’re using text messaging in more ways than simply communicating with friends. Maybe you know this, have decided to implement text messaging reference at your library, it’s finally ready to go and now what? Start promoting the service!

Libraries as a Marketing Vehicle?
Less than 2 years ago, an agency in the UK considered libraries a new channel in direct marketing. Regardless of what your personal reaction to this is (let me guess: not positive?), the idea is worth mentioning: placing marketing materials inside the book will get at least one view or impression. I’m sure plenty of folks were pleased to find that the idea didn’t take off too well. I’m one to appreciate creativity even when execution might be hard to pull off, but execution is 99% of the battle in marketing and great execution requires great planning. That said, we can learn something from those whose job it is to think of new ways to grab people’s attention.

Just because you print up posters does not mean they’ll get seen and just because you create a Twitter account does not mean people will follow (or even read) your tweets. Sorry, but it’s true. (Side note: we love Twitter, use it daily and it’s ok by us that teens don’t tweet). In the end, it’s about deciding what gets you the most for your budget, time and resources. So what to do? Whenever possible, do something different from what has been done. Write a list of what is usually used to promote news, updates or services and then choose something new and unusual. If you have strict guidelines about how new services can be marketed, no problem, there’s still room for flexibility and creativity or you wouldn’t be reading this post. This isn’t about skipping all methods used in the past, some can be great, the point is to avoid the noise.


A few quick tips on what to consider when avoiding the noise:

1) Avoid the Noise.
Yeah, tough one, right? Seriously though, it’s simple enough. If you see stacks of postcards on a table, placing more postcards there isn’t going to help. One of my favorite stories is about Arizona Iced Tea during their initial roll out to grocery stores: they were looking at slotting/shelving fees and noticed that it would be cheaper to be near the fruits and vegetables than on the drinks aisle. Pay more and be one of many drinks in an aisle (noise) or pay less and be near healthy fruits and vegetables? Seems like a no brainer.

Noise

Noise

2) Choose more than one method, include one you absolutely know will work.
Prior to being in the mobile industry, I worked in internet advertising and guerrilla marketing, both when they were considered very new. I saw over 400 campaigns take place and always noticed one thing: the brands utilizing more than one method or medium to promote their product or service had higher levels of success. By using several methods, you have a better chance at increasing your reach. If someone sees you in both (or even more) places, you are increasing your frequency. Both are good things. We’ll be covering some methods and ideas we’ve seeing working by some of the libraries having success in future posts, but one of the things they have in common is using more than one method to get the word out. Another interesting element is that the librarians where SMS reference services are successful are seeing the value of the service and are excited to be able to offer it.

3) Make sure you are using the proper terminology in your instructions.
This one is very important and while it should go without saying, we’re saying it anyway. Make it easy to understand and it will get used. Patrons are texting to the service, not “calling” it. Links to templates you are free to use are below and have some simple, but useful terminology. It’s also important to note that “Standard Message Rates Apply” somewhere on your materials.

4) A great call to action is the only way you’ll grab attention and hold it.
You can come up with a great call to action phrase without sounding like an infomercial. Your call to action can be in the form of asking a question, followed by a request:
“Need Info? Have a mobile phone? Text a librarian!”
“Want info on the go? Text us!”
A great call to action goes a long ways.

5) Use mobile phone icons or graphics in your materials.
When you show a mobile phone image, you increase your chances of getting noticed by those interested in using their mobile devices for communication. Make it as big as possible on your materials to get people to notice.
Mobile + Information

Ultimately, you have to decide what will work best in your library, which area will get the most attention in the spot with the least amount of noise. Personally, I’m a fan of the business card-sized flyers because they are small, can be tucked into a book, put in a wallet or purse and used later. Other people prefer posters, table tents or bookmarks. If you find any of those interesting, keep reading, we’ve created some templates to hopefully make it easier for you.

Promotional Perfection from East Baton Rouge Public Library

(Promotional Perfection from East Baton Rouge Public Library)

Library Marketing Microsoft Word Templates
If you’re looking for a place to get started, here are some Microsoft Word templates we’ve created for you. In the efforts of leaving them open to promoting the service in your own voice, we made them somewhat content-neutral (we recognize the call to action could be a lot more exciting). You may download and customize them as you see fit for your library.

Library Marketing Materials - Poster Template

Click on any of the links below to open the templates on your computer:

* Library Marketing Materials – Business Card/Flyers Template
* Library Marketing Materials – Table Tent Template
* Library Marketing Materials – Bookmarks Template
* Library Marketing Materials – Poster Template

Please note: The little phone logo on the templates is what we use for Mosio’s Text a Librarian. It was developed with the help of Kelly Barrick from Yale University Libraries (thanks Kelly!) and we feel it does a great job of visually explaining what mobile reference is all about. You are more than welcome to use it on these templates we’ve provided, but if you are not interested, here’s a list of creative commons flickr “mobile phone” photos. Either way, it really makes no difference to us, the goal here is to offer free templates, not sneak a logo in front of anyone.

Patrons at your library who use text messaging are going to think that being able to text you is interesting. It’s new, it’s different and many are using text messaging for more than just communicating with friends. Get their attention, give them a compelling reason and they’ll give it a try. Good luck and see you next week!

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Beyond 160 Characters in the Library – Text Messaging Reference Doesn't Need to Be Limiting

Many, many, many...

There seem to be varying stories about the history of SMS (Text Messaging) and why Friedhelm Hillebrand, the creator of SMS, decided on 160 as THE number. Some say it’s the amount of characters on a typical postcard, many other stories not that he just determined it while sitting at his type-writer in Germany, noting that most sentences do not require more than 160 letters. In many blog posts and mentions about using text messaging reference in the library, we see it noted that phones are limited to 160 characters. While this statement is mostly true, some phones and carriers let users extend their messages, this limitation only hinders your ability to respond to patron questions based on what method you are using to respond to them.

Without getting into the various ways you can respond to a patron inquiry to extend your response beyond 160 characters, suffice it to say each system has its own unique solution, most requiring more manual work on your part. Instead, let me explain how Text a Librarian solves that problem and makes it significantly easier for librarians: character counters and multi-message splitting.

Mosio's Text a Librarian enables you to send text message responses beyond 160 characters.

Mosio's Text a Librarian enables you to send text message responses beyond 160 characters.

Character Counts and Multi-Message Splitting
Text a Librarian has a real-time character counter and message view so you can see exactly what the patron’s text message is going to look like as you type it out in the answer box. If you type beyond 160 characters, the system shows you what the second message will look like and will send it as such, extending the space you have to send a thoughtful and well-formed response. It seems relatively simple and it was built to be that way, but it is a necessary functionality to make it easier for librarians to respond while offering patrons the most helpful and content-rich answer they can get on their mobile device.

Which is More Important: The Patron Experience or Librarian Experience?
Our answer? Both. In speaking with anyone on the Mosio team, you’ll often hear the phrase “patron experience” or “librarian experience” when it comes to our system and interaction design. Simply stated, we don’t see a reason to offer a reference service if it’s going to be difficult for patrons or librarians to use, no one is going to get excited about it. In fact, a handful of people ask “why don’t you have the page auto-refresh when a new question comes in?” It’s a valid question and we initially integrated it. Then we tried answering a question when another question came in. The page becomes a moving target and the assumed convenience of having a new question magically appear on the page becomes frustration at the inability to answer the question you’re working on.

The product team is working on a few additional features that will take mobile reference even further, providing a richer experience to both patrons and librarians, enabling both to get excited about its simplicity and ease of use. For the time being, this functionality is being well received by our libraries using the system, expanding the character limitations within the core technology.


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Library Marketing Tip Mondays: Promoting Text Messaging Reference Services at Your Library – Posted Weekly in August

At ALA Annual in Chicago we got a wonderful chance to meet more of our clients face to face, get some feedback, thoughts, questions and shared excitement about offering text messaging reference service to patrons.

An instruction and electronic services librarian using our service at an academic library asked if I had any suggestions or thoughts for her library to successfully promote their Text a Librarian service for the upcoming school year. Ironically, it was her library’s initial website copy/graphics that inspired us to create and add website phone graphics to the Patron Marketing Materials section of our site for all of our libraries. We now also have sample copy there and as always, libraries are free to edit, mashup or remix things to best communicate the service to their patrons.

Lisa has inspired us once again to do a weekly post in August called “Marketing Tip Mondays: Promoting Text Messaging Reference Services” where we’ll share some thoughts, ideas and successes that we think you’ll find helpful in marketing your mobile text messaging reference services to patrons. Whether or not your library is currently using our text message reference solution, we hope you’ll find it useful. The marketing tips can be used to promote any current and emerging technologies in libraries.

Marketing Tip Mondays will be posted every Wednesday in August. This isn’t a joke or a typo, we just know Mondays aren’t the best day to send email updates. Many people think Tuesdays are, but from analyzing our email newsletter statistics, incoming emails and website traffic, we’ve discovered Wednesdays are best. “Marketing Tip Wednesdays” just doesn’t sound as great.

You can either check back here every Wednesday or sign up to receive new Mobile Reference + Library 2.0 posts via email from feedburner.


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