Monday, July 6, 2009

SMS Library Reference Service Options / Beth Stahr

SMS Library Reference Service Options / Beth Stahr / Library Hi Tech News / 2009 / 26 / 3&4 / pp. 13 - 15 / DOI: 10. 1108 / 07419050910979955



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


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


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.


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


Some have questioned whether it is possible to realistically answer library reference questions using short messages. Does the inherent small size of the communication message reduces the efficacy of text message reference service?

While the experience is limited, libraries which have adopted these services all report satisfaction. In some instances, answers are short and complete. In other instances, librarians find it necessary to provide a broad answer and suggest that the patron follow up with a phone call, email or face to face reference transaction.

Even in those cases, the initial SMS transaction provides the opportunity to begin the conversation in a method selected by the user, and to open the door for further contact.

Key Readings




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