SMS Reference Service: A New Point of Need for Libraries
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SMS Reference Service: A New Point of Need for Libraries

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Margie Ruppel, Boise State University ...

Margie Ruppel, Boise State University
Amy Vecchione, Boise State University

Abstract
Boise State University's text reference service is growing in popularity among students. BSU librarians chose SMS software and started the service during Summer 2010. Join BSU librarians Amy Vecchione and Margie Ruppel for this session to learn what types of questions are asked through SMS, students' opinions of the service, as well as helpful guidelines for starting your own text referencing service.

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  • showcase the available toolsdiscuss pros and cons of some tools describe how it worksdemonstrate how LibAnswers & Google Voice worksstate the research regarding the most common questionsshare our policies, suggest best practices & brainstorm more best practices as a group all questions are treated like real questionsrespond as quickly as possiblesend more than one text? ask if they want online resources, or links, and provide them if yesask if they have any more questionssay “You’re welcome. Is there anything else I can help you with?” if they “Thank you”Show a slide with actual questions that were asked hereActivity for texting with BSU & Ada Community Amy will ask Dylan Baker for permissionQuestions & Answers:
  • So libraries have stepped up to the plate offering their own version of this text messaging answers service, because that’s our business, and we do it best.
  • It makes sense, too, because a lot of people are texting. According to the most recent study from Pew, from September 2010, 87% of all teen cell users are texting.
  • Teens text 50 message a day on average, five times more than the ten that adults send and receive. So you can reach out to your teens by offering this service, yes. However….
  • You’re also reaching out to your adult populations too because 72% of adults with cell phones send and receive text messages.
  • So you probably want to know what kinds of questions people would ask on SMS reference. When we first implemented this last year, our library staff had that very same question. Margie and I decided to investigate. Here is a well rounded sample of some of the questions.
  • In one of our two studies, we asked other libraries what kinds of tools they were using. Mosio text a librarian, and Google Voice were the top two, with Library H3lp and LibAnswers products close behind. We evaluated Google Voice and LibAnswers. All of these services are good. Google Voice is free to implement, but LibAnswers has a more robust statistical system, and also will send out after hours messages automatically, so we went with LibAnswers.
  • My recommendation for you to also consider is this consortium. A significant number of people responded that they were in a consortium. There are a few statewide consortiums, but there is also one that is country-wide called InfoQuest, which is a great option for smaller libraries. Libraries that participated in the pilot project were free, and had to contribute just one hour per week of answering questions – but they were answering questions from all over the country. Now that they are exiting the pilot project stage, they are considering a nominal fee. This sytem is powered by Google Voice.
  • So if you would like to participate in the consortium – where people from other libraries would answer your SMS questions for you, as well as you contributing just one hour – check out their website and email Lori Bell or Mary Carol Lindbloom.
  • Google voice looks like this.
  • Live demo: Amy will text the number with TEST: What
  • We started a soft roll out in Summer 2010, and a hard roll out in Fall 2010. We started using it in instruction, and only minimally advertised it using flyers and the research studies. We conducted two separate studies because we had so many questions when we were training on how to use the SMS platform, LibAnswers, that Amy and Margie decided to investigate to help other libraries get started with SMS Reference. Not only did we not know the answers, but when we searched the literature, we found that there was very little written about this, and what was written was conflicting. I should also say that in January we just made it to 100 text messages/month for the first time, so it is continuing to grow. As of yesterday, Feb. 8, 2011, we received 56 text messages since Feb. 1, 2011 – that’s a lot!
  • When they introduced the platform, they trained on how to use it. Only a very few trained on how to type in LOL speak. We also polled them about the ways that they deal with complex answers – if they SMS question requires a lengthier answer. Those ranged from sending the patron an email, to asking them to come in the desk, to assuming they have unlimited text messages, and therefore can get several text messages explaining the whole thing.
  • We asked the libraries using SMS reference to rank the types of questions according to which questions they receive the most. The categories were: Ready reference – answerable within 1-3 texts, Complex reference questions, Jokes, Hours and Location, Directional, Do you have x book, and Other. 81% put Ready Reference in the top three, 79% put Do you have x book in the top three, and hours and location was 49% of respondents put that in their top three most asked questions. People who responded with Other said they also get reader’s advisory questions, citation style, policy, library accounts, complaints about noise, bees, or broken things, is my hold in, what is my password, help with a database, genealogy, how to access a database, etc. For complex reference questions respondents suggested follow up through email, phone, or in person service, to continue texting, to send a link, write the answer as short as possible (like the bacon answer).

SMS Reference Service: A New Point of Need for Libraries SMS Reference Service: A New Point of Need for Libraries Presentation Transcript

  • SMS Reference Service A New Point of Need for Libraries Amy Vecchione Margie Ruppel
  • Google Answers How many slices of bacon are in a package?
  • Google Answers How many slices of bacon are in a package? Sorry, “how many slices o…’ did not return any results
  • KGB $0.99 per question
  • Cha Cha Not available for all plans Human powered answers Flawed answers KGB $0.99 per question
  • Snapshot of Libraries & SMS Reference
  • 72% of adults with cell phones send and receive text messages
  • What are they asking?
  • Why are freshmen required to take a library oreintation?
  • Why are freshmen required to take a library oreintation? To help acquaint students with the resources available at an academic library which is different than public or high school libraries.
  • on average how many slices of bacon are in a package...
  • on average how many slices of bacon are in a package... Cooks Illustrated says that regular sliced 1/16th of an inch usually contains 18-22 slices per pck per lb, & thick-cut aka country has 12-16 slices per pck per lb. Thick cut is 1/8 inch slices. http://www.cooksillustrated.com/tastetes ts/overview.asp?docid=9874
  • How late is the library open? [BSU Broncos]
  • How late is the library open? [BSU Broncos] until midnight! w00t!
  • Do you have any books about constucting poems?
  • Do you have any books about constucting poems? Lots! 3rd floor PN1042-PN1064.
  • Who was the first US President to meet the Pope?
  • Who was the first U.S. President to meet the Pope? The first U.S. president to visit the Vatican was Woodrow Wilson, who met with Pope Benedict XV in 1919 after WWI.
  • Top Tools
  • http://www.myinfoquest.info
  • 208 546 9982
  • 208 991-0181
  • Ada Community Library (208) 991-0181 Albertsons Library (208) 546-9982 TIME TO TEXT A LIBRARIAN!
  • Albertsons Library SMS Reference
  • •Completed survey •U106 students33 •Had previously used SMS reference15% •Say they would use it again91%
  • How much did you like using the SMS Reference service? 90% POSITIVE 8 loved it 10 liked it a lot 12 liked it 6% NEUTRAL 2 4% NEGATIVE 2 disliked it 1 disliked it a lot 0 hated it
  • Rate the quality of the help you got from the librarian. 94% Positive 9 loved it 12 liked it a lot 9 liked it 6% Neutral 2 0% Negative 0 disliked it 0 disliked it a lot 0 hated it
  • 76% 24% When you use Text Messaging Reference, do you want library staff to tell you about both print and online sources or just online sources?
  • 30% Frequently ask for help at Ref. desks 57% Rarely ask or never ask for help at Ref. desks
  • •Don’t want to bother going to the library building •9% = SMS problem58% •Desk person does not look like they want to help or look too busy •9% = SMS problem 54% •Don’t want to get up from their computer •6% = SMS problem 45% •Feel stupid for not already knowing •9% = SMS problem56% •Desk person does not look like they will know the answer •21% = SMS problem21%
  • Now that you've used Text Messaging Reference, do you think you will increase or decrease the number of questions you will ask at the traditional reference desk? 55% will increase 21% will decrease 24% will not change
  • “I would say using this method can help students who rely heavily on their cell phone usage.” “If you feel like your question is silly, it doesn't matter because the texting makes it confidential in a way.” “I don't have to worry about situational factors, like is that person looking at me, do i smell ok, did I word that question correctly, etc.” “Don't have to wait for help.” SMS Advantages
  • “Sometimes it's easier for the librarian to physically show me where something is.” “Limited answers. The answers are short and to the point, no elaboration of suggestions.” “might be hard to explain exactly what you need” “there really isn't any. “ SMS Disadvantages
  • “I do not like asking for help in a library. I have had people make me feel dumb before and now will not ask. So for me there is no advantage.” “they can show you books“ “You can get better details” “Social interaction, more elaboration on answers and suggestions, no wait time.” Ref Desk Advantages
  • “there could be long lines, the librarian may not be competent .” “Sometimes I don't trust their knowledge or expertise or it is hard to tell if someone is a worker, or a credible enough worker, to offer advice.” “I feel dumb and like I am bothering them.” “none” Ref Desk Disadvantages
  • 73% conducted training
  • How many texts? Unsure…. (14%) Just started (12.5%) 10 or less (40%) 10-100 (28%) Over 100(6.3%)
  • Ready reference 81% Do you have x book 79% Hours & Location 49%
  • Attract a new user base and make us attractive to those who use SMS as their primary communication tool
  • Attract a new user base and make us attractive to those who use SMS as their primary communication tool Convenience to the patron, using technology most students prefer
  • Attract a new user base and make us attractive to those who use SMS as their primary communication tool It’s another form of reference Convenience to the patron, using technology most students prefer
  • Attract a new user base and make us attractive to those who use SMS as their primary communication tool It’s another form of reference It is easily implemented Convenience to the patron, using technology most students prefer
  • Attract a new user base and make us attractive to those who use SMS as their primary communication tool It’s another form of reference It is easily implemented Provide patrons with as many ways to reach us as we can Convenience to the patron, using technology most students prefer
  • Attract a new user base and make us attractive to those who use SMS as their primary communication tool It’s another form of reference It is easily implemented Provide patrons with as many ways to reach us as we can Easy way to provide quick answers Convenience to the patron, using technology most students prefer
  • Afraid of technology
  • Afraid of technology We don’t even use the word reference anymore
  • Afraid of technology We don’t even use the word reference anymore Not enough time or staff
  • We don’t offer text messaging reference because we are behind the times
  • Why not? Why?
  • Questions ?
  • Contact Information Margie Ruppel •margieruppel@boisestate.edu Amy Vecchione •amyvecchione@boisestate.edu