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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2007

Sonia Herman

In an attempt to meet evolving client needs, Southbank Library needed to become more flexible in the way services were delivered. The paper investigates whether providing…

Abstract

Purpose

In an attempt to meet evolving client needs, Southbank Library needed to become more flexible in the way services were delivered. The paper investigates whether providing a short message service (SMS) for students to text the library for information would offer a readily accessible alternative to e‐mail and live chat services.

Design/methodology/approach

SMS reference services where thoroughly researched in Australia and overseas to gage their usefulness for Southbank Institute libraries. Demographic statistics of the student population allowed researchers to determine how appropriate SMS reference technology would prove to be for library clients.

Findings

The paper finds that implementing SMS reference allowed the library the opportunity to access students via a familiar accessible service. SMS a Librarian has become part of the Southbank Institute Library Ask a Librarian service, which includes e‐mail, phone and live chat access for students and staff. By adding this new technology to the reference services, users are now able to send questions and receive answers from Southbank librarians by using the text messaging facility on their mobile phones.

Practical applications

SMS has become a popular way of communicating particularly among the younger generation. However, it is important that individual libraries evaluate the appropriateness of this technology for their clientele. For Southbank library it was a suitable technology as so many of the students use text messaging. It was felt that a large number of international students would benefit from this service. Often students with English as a second language feel more comfortable texting a question then using more conventional methods of communication. The success of the SMS reference service at Southbank Institute library revolves around three key points: SMS meets our clients' needs instantly; SMS is a relevant form of communication for students; and finally, the ease of providing SMS technology. Originality/value – When researching other educational institutions using SMS reference technology it became clear that universities were leading the field. Southbank Institute of Technology was the first vocational education institute to implement SMS reference and its experience should benefit similar skilled‐based training institutes.

Details

The Electronic Library, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0264-0473

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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2012

Margie Ruppel and Amy Vecchione

The purpose of this paper is to discover how college students perceive text messaging reference (SMS), chat reference, and face‐to‐face reference services.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discover how college students perceive text messaging reference (SMS), chat reference, and face‐to‐face reference services.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors administered surveys about chat, text messaging (SMS), and face‐to‐face reference to students enrolled in a one‐credit library skills course. Survey results focus on users' willingness to return, their perceptions of chat and text messaging (SMS) reference, and the reasons they choose to utilize different communication mediums for reference service.

Findings

College students value the availability of high‐quality, quick, convenient, personalized reference assistance, regardless of medium used.

Practical implications

Academic libraries can personalize reference services, but also need to offer ways for patrons to ask questions anonymously.

Social implications

Robust communication contributes to the perceived usefulness and success of library reference services. Effective reference service provided at the point‐of‐need helps build positive student‐librarian relationships.

Originality/value

This study aims to contribute to reference services research by bringing new technology into consideration. It focuses on two technologies (chat and SMS reference) in light of another available method (in‐person reference desk). This study is based on a 2002 study about patron perceptions of chat reference (Ruppel and Fagan), which is compared to the current study's results.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 40 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 16 March 2012

William Breitbach and Adolfo G. Prieto

This paper aims to analyze data from a pilot study at one academic library using Google Voice for text message (SMS) reference. It also aims to analyze SMS reference

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyze data from a pilot study at one academic library using Google Voice for text message (SMS) reference. It also aims to analyze SMS reference question typology, compare question typology to other reference services, and analyze communication in the context of SMS reference.

Design/methodology/approach

Analysis of all reference service models was conducted, including question typology. SMS transcripts were analyzed in the following areas: presence of a reference interview, evidence of a referral, number of librarian and patron texts, response time, and transaction duration.

Findings

The number of SMS queries was lower than expected. Questions were primarily non‐research‐based or ready reference. The average number of texts per transaction was 7.5. With outliers removed, average response time was 9.5 minutes, and average transaction time was 53.2 minutes. Users appear to be regulating question difficulty.

Research limitations/implications

Data collection occurred during a state furlough period, which likely impacted the number of reference transactions. Conversation analysis and user feedback were not incorporated into this study, but could aid in understanding communication patterns in SMS reference.

Practical implications

Google Voice offers a viable option for implementing SMS reference, and this paper offers direction to interested parties. Challenges in answering complex questions via SMS should not be a concern, since patrons generally are not asking difficult questions.

Originality/value

This pilot study expands the growing body of literature on SMS reference in academic libraries, comparing it to other reference service models at the same institution. It also highlights Google Voice as a free alternative to subscription or fee‐based models of SMS reference service.

Details

Library Review, vol. 61 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2010

Alexa Pearce, Scott Collard and Kara Whatley

This paper seeks to create an empirical framework for SMS reference services so that libraries may develop a greater understanding of how this service operates and how it…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to create an empirical framework for SMS reference services so that libraries may develop a greater understanding of how this service operates and how it may be improved.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper conducted a quantitative analysis of 577 SMS transactions, representing 628 reference questions, received during the 2008‐2009 academic year. Each transaction was coded by type of question, transaction length in messages or “events,” and transaction duration in time.

Findings

SMS transactions exhibit a higher than expected degree of variability in total number of events, duration and content. Overall, duration of transaction averaged 4.34 hours, and number of events per transaction averaged 3.79. Calculating separately for those transactions that contained a reference query – which comprises 40 percent of the total questions received – noticeably altered the results. The duration of reference queries averaged 4.85 hours, while the number of events averaged 4.65. Where reference queries occurred there was a high incidence of user expressions of gratitude, regardless of duration or number of events exchanged. These results support the conclusion that users do not expect a purely synchronous service, though faster response time and thoroughness of answer do show a relationship with higher user satisfaction.

Originality/value

Many of the findings of the study challenge currently held assumptions and impressions regarding the nature and potential of SMS reference services in academic libraries.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 38 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 3 April 2009

Beth Stahr

The purpose of this paper is to review the usefulness of short message service (SMS) or text‐messaging for library reference service.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the usefulness of short message service (SMS) or text‐messaging for library reference service.

Design/methodology/approach

The different technological approaches to SMS reference service are described and compared.

Findings

The advantages and disadvantages of each approach are provided.

Research limitations/implications

Because these technologies are still evolving, this report is merely a first effort at describing the different service methods in a single review.

Practical implications

This paper is intended to be helpful to any library considering providing a text message reference service. It should help the library identify which approach will best suit the culture of that library.

Originality/value

This is an overall look at different available technologies, which will be helpful to any library contemplating adding an SMS reference service.

Details

Library Hi Tech News, vol. 26 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0741-9058

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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2012

John Paul Anbu K. and Makana R. Mavuso

Short Message Service (SMS) is an application which is widely used in mobile telephony. SMS messaging through mobile phones is very popular among young and old. This study…

Abstract

Purpose

Short Message Service (SMS) is an application which is widely used in mobile telephony. SMS messaging through mobile phones is very popular among young and old. This study aims to look at how SMS technology can be very effectively used in library and information services with a glimpse into a pilot project conducted by University of Swaziland and Emerald Group Publishing Limited and the subsequent need for creating a prototype for the SMS‐based library alert services and marketing of library services.

Design/methodology/approach

Following the pilot project conducted by the University of Swaziland and Emerald Group Publishing Limited for a period of two months (March‐April 2009), the findings and the methodology used for the project prompted further research. Data and experience gained during the pilot project is predominantly used in the paper.

Findings

This study finds that the library users can be successfully motivated and engaged to use the resources through SMS messaging and have the potential to market library services. It also finds out that there is a need to have a prototype for essential services for the benefit of the users as well as to market the library resources.

Research limitations/implications

The pilot project was a short project with specific user base. This project was not tested on heterogeneous user base. The prototype model also works on certain assumptions and limitations. At the prototype level different files are suggested and they are handled separately because of which an open ended script method is suggested. Longer SMSs, which cannot be sent by the SMS server, need to be either split up into several messages or stored in the server as a webpage and sent as a hyperlink in SMSs.

Practical implications

To implement the prototype, various steps highlighted in the paper are to be followed and since each action needs to be operated separately, it cannot be claimed as a single click SMS‐based alert service.

Originality/value

This study presents a method for implementing SMS‐based alert service in libraries. With the experience gained in a similar practical environment, an attempt has been made to create a prototype. This may serve as an important milestone in integrating such a service into the future integrated library services (ILS).

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Article
Publication date: 4 January 2013

Sridevi Jetty and John Paul Anbu K.

Short Message Service (SMS) is an application that is widely used by all types of mobile telephone users. Integration of these short messages for marketing different…

Abstract

Purpose

Short Message Service (SMS) is an application that is widely used by all types of mobile telephone users. Integration of these short messages for marketing different products and services has become a common practice in e‐commerce. This study aims to look at how SMS‐based mobile alerts can be effectively implemented in libraries for successfully marketing the library services and providing value‐added services. This study seeks to follow‐up an original pilot project conducted by the University of Swaziland and Emerald Group Publishing on SMS‐based alert services for a smaller group of users on Emerald's Intouch platform. In this new study the authors aim to try the same project with a combination of multiple databases and a heterogeneous user groups on an independent platform.

Design/methodology/approach

With the experiences gained from the UNISWA‐Emerald pilot project on SMS alerts a similar project with a wider scope was attempted at Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, India, where an attempt was made to see whether a similar content alert system, based on the prototype suggested in the pilot project, can be effectively implemented using the same technology on an independent platform with a semi‐automated system compared to the manual system of the pilot. The methodology, findings, data and the experience gained during the pilot project as well as the follow‐up project are predominantly used in this paper.

Findings

This study confirms that the prototype suggested in the pilot project can be implemented on an independent platform with multiple databases by using the same parameters. It proves that a successful SMS‐based alert service similar to a SDI service can be implemented using the SMS messaging and have the potential to successfully market library services to its patrons.

Research limitations/implications

This project is a second in the sequence where the authors have tried a heterogeneous user group and mobile alerts consists of the different databases subscribed to by the university library. The alerts were dependent on the effective e‐mail‐based alerts provided by the publishers. The keywords used were generalized and the users provided the keyword based on their personal needs. The major limitation was the manual transmission of the SMS, which needs to be automated with a script. Another limitation was the maximum size of SMS texts. Whenever the texts exceeded 140 characters, only hyperlinks were sent with the actual content being kept as a webpage in the server.

Practical implications

This project can be implemented as it is since it generalizes the process of implementing a result‐oriented SMS‐based alert service.

Originality/value

This study presents a method for implementing an SMS‐based alert service in libraries. With the experiences gained in a series of practical environments the authors have attempted to document the practical experience, which can be implemented in its present form. With mobile alerts gaining prominence in library services and very little material are available on SMS‐based alert services in libraries this may serve as an important milestone in integrating such a service into the future integrated library services.

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Article
Publication date: 5 August 2014

Ebikabowei Emmanuel Baro, Bueaty U. Efe and Gboyega K. Oyeniran

– This study aims to investigate the different channels reference librarians receive reference inquiries from patrons in university libraries in Nigeria.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the different channels reference librarians receive reference inquiries from patrons in university libraries in Nigeria.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire was used to collect data on the various channels through which reference librarians received reference inquiries in Nigerian university libraries. The questionnaire was administered using an online method.

Findings

It emerged that the face-to-face traditional reference desk was rated as the highest channel through which librarians receive reference inquiries in Nigeria, followed by library Facebook page and phone/short message service (SMS). Instant messaging (IM) and e-mail were identified as the least used channels by the patrons. The challenges mentioned include the absence of policy statements concerning virtual reference services; the lack of information and communications technology (ICT) skills on the part of librarians; slow Internet connectivity; power failures; management’s lack of support for emerging technologies; IM’s limitations; user’s expectations of instant answer; inarticulate requests; and lack of adequate current reference materials.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are from a small sample size; therefore, the findings may not be substantial enough to generalize. Further study is necessary to determine if these results are consistent throughout other university libraries in Nigeria.

Originality/value

The findings will inform university libraries in developing countries that are planning to adopt virtual reference services to deliver reference services to users anywhere, anytime.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 42 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2010

Lilia Murray

The purpose of this paper is to present a review of selected mobile technology literature and to inform librarians about the following seven mobile initiatives: Library…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a review of selected mobile technology literature and to inform librarians about the following seven mobile initiatives: Library Web sites; SMS Reference; MOPACs (Mobile OPACs) and Integrated Library Systems; Mobile Collections; eBooks and Mobile Reading; Mobile Instruction; Mobile Audio/Video Tours.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review is gathered from periodical articles as well as a number of well‐known blogs discussing mobile initiatives in libraries.

Findings

Listed in order of importance to most patrons, the seven initiatives examined were chosen because their widespread discussion in the literature, at presentations, and on blogs suggests that they are moving beyond mere trends and are becoming best practices. The development and implementation of these mobile services can range from work‐intensive and expensive to scalable, inexpensive solutions.

Originality/value

The information may be used by libraries seeking to add mobile technologies in order to enhance their traditional services, making them not only more available, but also more relevant to their users. In addition, the examinations provide, where possible, the author's recommendations for libraries seeking to implement such initiatives and suggest directions for future applications.

Details

Reference Services Review, vol. 38 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0090-7324

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Book part
Publication date: 24 November 2011

Lilia Murray

The purpose of this chapter is to present a general review of free or inexpensive methods of implementing the following mobile services in libraries: Library Websites…

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to present a general review of free or inexpensive methods of implementing the following mobile services in libraries: Library Websites, Short Message Service (SMS) reference, and Mobile Online Public Access Catalogs (MOPACs). The findings were based on a literature review of materials that discussed mobile technologies in libraries. The findings conclude that libraries with tight budgets should approach their mobilization project in terms of stages, developing content and services sequentially from passive formats, which require little input, to more dynamic items, which entail greater interaction. Most free and inexpensive mobile services are geared toward passive formats, providing a starting point for libraries with limited budgets. Scope of the chapter is limited to public and university libraries and initiatives for smartphones. Prices listed are in USD as of January 2011 and may be subject to change. The costs of training, management, and development time by libraries were not factored into the costs. Mobile services have become one of the biggest new library trends. Simply keeping abreast of library service options made possible through advances in mobile technology can be a challenge. In addition, tough economic times have prevented many libraries from actually implementing mobile services. This chapter discusses a number of ways for libraries to create their own mobile initiative with little to no money at all—except of course for the hidden cost of staff effort.

Details

Librarianship in Times of Crisis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-391-0

Keywords

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