#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
24 hour in-house
text service
How our secret ingredients led to
success
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
Chat reference
• Implemented in-house chat reference
service in July 2012
• Staffed by libr...
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
Y not txt 2?
• Texting is wildly popular with college
students
• Same staffing, hours and p...
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
One secret ingredient
Staff in Circulation and Information
Services
• Have plenty of experi...
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
Secret ingredient #2
Promotional strategy
• No restrictions on the kind of questions
which ...
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
Success! Look at our #s
• Started 24-hour text March 11, 2013
• 1400% increase
• Now averag...
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
#ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
kthxbai :o)
Teresa Doherty
mtdohert@vcu.edu
&
Bettina Peacemaker
bjpeacemaker@vcu.edu
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Cabell Library 24-hour, in-house text reference service

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Presented at ALA, Chicago, 6/30/13. VCU Libraries expanded our chat reference service in the spring of 2013, by adding in a text messaging option, and making it available whenever the library is open (24 hours a day, 5 days a week, and weekend hours). We included staff in the circulation department as well as librarians and staff in our research and instruction department, and we promoted this service to our patrons inside the building. We also chose to not restrict the type of questions we would answer. Result? Success!

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Cabell Library 24-hour, in-house text reference service

  1. 1. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries 24 hour in-house text service How our secret ingredients led to success
  2. 2. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries Chat reference • Implemented in-house chat reference service in July 2012 • Staffed by librarians and paraprofessionals in Research and Instructional Services • Platform: LibraryH3lp • Typical hours (M-T 11-10, F 11-6, Sun 6-10) • Pretty successful
  3. 3. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries Y not txt 2? • Texting is wildly popular with college students • Same staffing, hours and platform as for our chat service • January and February usage stats: average under 1 text message a day :-( • Why not expand? It shouldn't be too difficult (famous last words?)
  4. 4. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries One secret ingredient Staff in Circulation and Information Services • Have plenty of experience answering patron questions • Complex research questions could be directed to librarians • What's there to lose? (again, famous last words)
  5. 5. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries Secret ingredient #2 Promotional strategy • No restrictions on the kind of questions which could be asked and answered • Advertised as a service for patrons inside the library as well as outside • PR campaign-apalooza
  6. 6. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries Success! Look at our #s • Started 24-hour text March 11, 2013 • 1400% increase • Now average over 6 questions per day • Worth it? Definitely -- 67% of questions are sent outside our (more restricted) chat hours
  7. 7. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
  8. 8. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
  9. 9. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries
  10. 10. #ALA13 #ALAFeast #VCULibraries kthxbai :o) Teresa Doherty mtdohert@vcu.edu & Bettina Peacemaker bjpeacemaker@vcu.edu

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