Tag Archives: Virtual Reference

Mosio Partners with Tshwane University of Technology for its First Library Solution in South Africa

Mosio Partners with Tshwane University of Technology for its First Library Solution in South Africa

Leading virtual reference software for libraries, enabling two-way communications between staff and students via live chat, email, text messaging and Facebook, now available in South Africa
mosioforlibraries_microboard_sk13
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aug. 14, 2013PRETORIA, South AfricaMosio for Libraries, an all-in-one, multi-channel virtual reference software for libraries, announces its first solution implementation in South Africa. The company’s partnership with Tshwane University of Technology will enable library staff to interact with patrons and answer questions via live chat, email, text messaging and Facebook.

“We are extremely excited to add Tshwane University of Technology’s Libraries to our client roster and have already established a great, collaborative relationship with their team,” said Noel Chandler, CEO and Co-Founder of Mosio. “As one of Africa’s leading universities of technology, we look forward to continuing our work to help them provide excellent information resources to students online or on-the-go.”

The Mosio for Libraries solution will launch in August, 2013, and will be rolled out to nine campuses, supporting approximately 56,000 students. The software features a secure, easy to use, web-based dashboard that can be utilized for two-way interactions with library patrons. Popular communication and efficiency tools include answer templates, customizable auto-responders and collaboration features. “The LIS is introducing major and exciting student service enhancements, including Mosio”, said Vivian Agyei, the Director for Library and Information Services.

“We are thrilled to become Mosio for Libraries’ first partner in South Africa,” said Nokuphiwa Kunene, Systems Librarian at Tshwane University of Technology. “Our priority is to implement a strong technology solution that allows us to better serve and interact with students, while also enabling us to maximize the use of resources by efficiently managing communications.
Mosio for Libraries is available in 21 countries, including the U.S., Canada, UK, Spain, Australia and South Africa. The software is cloud-based, so it is always up to date and does not require any hardware or software installation. The dashboard can be accessed on any web-enabled computer or device, regardless of physical location.

Mosio for Libraries integrates easily across websites, blogs and online databases through support tabs and widgets, and plugins and apps are available for Drupal, Joomla!, WordPress and Facebook.

About Mosio for Libraries
Mosio for Libraries is an all-in-one, multi-channel support software that enables libraries to receive and respond to patron questions via live chat, email, text messaging and Facebook. Visit http://mosio.com/libraries to learn more, sign up for a free trial and be greeted at the front door with a 90-second video detailing Mosio’s technology solution to a problem faced by libraries all over the world.

About TUT
In its logo, the Tshwane University of Technology claims that “we empower people” thus committing itself to the concepts of Diversity, Ethics, Relevance, Entrepreneurship, Care, Partnerships, Professionalism and lastly, Quality. TUT awards qualifications from national diploma level through to bachelor of technology degrees. Students may also continue with postgraduate studies towards master’s degrees and doctorates.

Why choose a University of Technology?
One of the strong features of obtaining a qualification at a university of technology, is the specialization in a chosen field. Furthermore entrepreneurship carries a lot of weight in the students’ education, since they are taught new ways of thinking and approaching their careers to become job creators rather than job seekers in the market,

It is a fact that South Africa is still in dire need of people suitably qualified in science, engineering and technology, the so-called SET courses. TUT offers numerous courses in these fields. But apart from academic qualifications, the university also offers programmes to equip students with specific skills to prepare them for the world of work. Some of these programmes especially those aimed at improving communication, writing, reading and interpersonal skills, form part of their academic programme.

TUT is divided into seven faculties:
- Faculty of Economics and Finance
- Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
- Faculty of Humanities
- Faculty of Information and Communication Technology
- Faculty of Management Sciences
- Faculty of Science
- Faculty of the Arts

At TUT the emphasis is on:
- Cutting edge technology
- Innovation through to commercialization
- Problem-solving skills
- Research and Innovation
- Partnerships and networks
- Technological incubators, technology stations, centres and institutes
- Community engagement

For more information visit http://www.tut.ac.za

Mosio for Libraries Intro Video: Multi-Channel Ask a Librarian Software | Chat + Email + Text Messaging + Widgets

The Mosio for Libraries “trailer” video is live! A 1 minute, 45 second explanation of why more librarians are choosing Mosio for their virtual reference and Ask a Librarian software needs.

Mosio enables libraries to receive and respond efficiently to questions from patrons via web chat, email, text messaging and support widgets for your website, blog and electronic resources. We’ll stop typing now and you can just watch the video. :)

 

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6 Ways to be More Efficient with Your Virtual Reference Services

Text a Librarian Tips from Mosio | Virtual Reference Chat Widget

Virtual references services can broaden the scope of library services, and help you to reach new patrons, but one of the keys to a successful virtual reference program is efficiency.

1. Create a FAQ for you and for patrons. A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list is a helpful resource for any library website that both benefits patron service and saves staff time. Patrons can answer their own questions quickly without aid of a staff member, staff can direct patrons directly to the appropriate question and answer, or staff can use the FAQ to help answer the questions themselves.

2. Have devoted time blocks for staff members for virtual reference. Virtual reference services should provide patrons with the same quality service as traditional service. If staff members are multi-tasking or prone to interruption while performing virtual reference, it may impede the quality of service. If you can’t set aside blocks of devoted time, or it doesn’t make sense given your virtual reference traffic, have staff working on projects that are easily interrupted and set aside.

3. Select your virtual reference tool wisely. Do your research before selecting a tool for your virtual reference services. You want a tool that can handle the virtual reference traffic efficiently, and you don’t want staff having to troubleshoot technical glitches while providing service.

4. Keep virtual reference limited to ready reference. Virtual reference services should be limited to questions that can be answered quickly and easily. For questions that require more extensive research, request the patron’s contact information.

5. Keep key reference sources at your fingertips. Create a set of shared bookmarks for online resources so staff can refer to them easily and quickly. If there are books that are frequently used to answer reference questions, have staff keep those on hand while engaging in virtual reference.

6. Consider Collaboration. Many libraries collaborate with other libraries on virtual reference service. This can be done through organization with an established consortium, or by reaching out to peer institutions.

Is 24/7 Reference Really Necessary?

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Is 24/7 Reference Really Necessary?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

One of the characteristics that can distinguish information specialists is their knowledge and ability to forecast the needs of informational services often before the public is aware of their future need for such services.

Our current society operates on a three shift day. Very few of us actually work a “typical” Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, 40 hour work week, and staying mindful of this, the availability of information and information professionals should become equally as flexible as those in need of these information services.
In teaching bibliographic instruction at the College of Central Florida library campuses in north central Florida, I include in that instruction the availability of the Ask-a-Librarian service that is provided for our students thanks to the dedication of many public, private and academic librarians. Prior to discussing the hours of availability, students will often ask, “Is Ask a Librarian available 24 hours?” This to me indicates that even in my selected area such services are needed.

Today, even in some of our nation’s smallest rural libraries, patrons have the ability to access electronic journals, e-books, databases as well as other e-resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Electronic information sources are growing in popularity throughout the world and along with this service, the need for expanded information assistance in other areas is often seen necessary.

When companies do establish their own in-house library, it is often limited and outdated. Medical professionals will sometimes have limited collections within their own facilities and are among the patrons seeking information outside the typical service hours of our public, private and academic libraries.
Perhaps instead of asking if 24/7 reference is necessary, we should now focus on the central element of when, where and how should we begin to commit the resources in providing this 24/7 reference.
Diane Perrine is a freelance writer and an Academic Librarian at the College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida. She resides in Ocala Florida.
Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, bicycling, volunteering and learning something new everyday.

This article is provided by Mosio for Libraries. To receive these directly in your inbox, please register for our Patron Support Tips Newsletter.


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www.mosio.com/libraries

Patron Relationship Management (PRM) – Mosio’s Future in Libraries

As we gear up for another ALA Annual the company has had some interesting discussions on new announcements and our directions in the world of library software.

A couple of weeks ago I had a great meeting/conversation with one of our partners and the discussion of library customer service came up. At the end of our partner meeting, someone said “we can give patrons access to all of the data in the world, but if we aren’t there for them from a customer service standpoint, it won’t matter.” Very true. Andy Woodworth’s blog post “Why Closing More Public Libraries Might Be the Best Thing (…Right Now)” [link below] came up in an internal company meeting, specifically his two points about customer service and advocacy (from the comments it seems the post got a lot of people talking).

The idea of improved customer service, whether at libraries or businesses in general, will continue to be a significant function of an organization’s success in the information age. Aaron Tay’s recent blog post about regularly scanning Twitter and the web for feedback is great (he gives some tips on how to do so) [link below], obviously taking a page from what many companies are doing as part of their customer service: listening to social media mentions for good and bad comments. Neither are the first to talk about the ongoing need for pro-active/reactive customer service in libraries, but both are current and relevant.

So what does this mean for Mosio and Text a Librarian?

We’re still very new to libraries and we LOVE working with them. Frankly, we’re just getting started. While we have friends who are librarians and have a handful of amazing people advising us, we’re not librarians ourselves, nor have we ever pretended to be. In many ways we see this as a distinct advantage to building our product: we cast aside any preconceived ideas of how things should be done and focus instead on simplicity, usability and feedback from our customers. We also know the inner workings of mobile technologies, enabling us to offer reliable (and certified) mobile services to libraries. We recently made an announcement that Mosio’s Text a Librarian is being used by over 500 academic and public libraries. It’s something we’re very proud to have accomplished in such a short amount of time, but we could not have done it without listening to the people who matter most to our success, the librarians who use our software with the benefit of communicating with more patrons on-the-go. The combination of our expertise and passion about creating an amazing library service will continue to be the keys to our ongoing success.

Text Messaging: It’s Not Just for Reference Anymore

In the same announcement we also mentioned that Mosio is now offering our full list of mobile services to libraries. Text messaging can be used for so many things beyond virtual reference and we’re set up to offer additional services to the benefit of our customers. We’re thrilled to be able to continue working with new and existing customers in offering technology solutions that will help us fulfill our vision for our library software: Patron Relationship Management.

Patron Relationship Management

We truly believe this is going to be one of the key tools libraries will need in the future to maintain great patron relationships and relevance in the community. Two comments we hear often are “I wish we could answer all patron questions this way” and “I wish everything could be in one place.” One of those comments we take as a compliment, the other we are taking seriously as a wish list item. Our goal for Text a Librarian was always to start simply, create web-based software that’s easy to use, reliable and certified by the mobile carriers, then grow additional features, elements and uses to continue giving more patrons access to libraries on their mobile phones. You can expect to see more from us in the mobile technology space, but every new product or service we add will have patron communications and relationship management in mind.

Links

Andy Woodworth: Why Closing More Public Libraries Might Be the Best Thing (…Right Now)
Aaron Tay: Why libraries should proactively scan Twitter & the web for feedback – some examples
LISWire: Mosio’s Text a Librarian in Over 500 Libraries, Announces Add-On Mobile Services

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.

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.
;)

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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