Tuesday, August 25, 2009

QandANJ Launches A Text Reference Pilot!

QandANJ.org launched its text reference pilot project this week!

Five QandANJ libraries are participating in the year long project that will test their customers’ interest in using text messaging to ask reference questions.

Participating libraries include Atlantic Cape Community College Library, Newark Public Library, Princeton Public Library, Vineland Public Library and William Paterson University Library.

QandANJ is covering the cost of Mosio’s Text a Librarian software – the best we’ve found for this application. Each subscription includes one microboard (online location to view incoming texts) and each library’s own text keyword. All texts go to the same phone number (66746, which spells Mosio) and patrons start the body of their text with the library’s keyword to route it to the correct library microboard. Patron info is private and anonymous.

The Mosio Software has many useful elements, including a feature that translates a message out of shortened “text speak” to full words! A reports function in the software will allow statistical analysis of the library’s text message reference services. Above all, the software is very easy to use.

The patrons text their questions, but the librarians type their answers via a web interface (kind of like the QandANJ chat monitor). Libraries can set the system so that incoming text messages generate emails to certain librarians’ email addresses. Alternately, the library can route their text questions through their existing IM systems (Meebo, Pidgin, etc.).

Unlike the cooperative model of QandANJ, only librarians at each participating library will see their own patrons. There will be no back up in this pilot project as each library answers only their own texts. What type of questions will be coming through the text platform is part of the experiment.

Participating libraries and QandANJ staff are very excited to see what happens in the coming year! For more information, please visit the participating libraries’ web pages.



Thanks To Laurinda Alcorn For The HeadsUp !

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