Friday, October 23, 2009

Becoming a Native Texter

At today's meeting of the Virtual Reference SIG, Alexa Pearce from NYU's Bobst Library made a nice point in her presentation about how librarians need to have the feel for the native texting experience if their libraries are running a text message reference service. When NYU first started its service a year and a half ago, they opted to just get a smartphone to run the service; they are now switching over to use the Library H3lp web interface to receive and reply to text message queries. Pearce noted, though, that during the months that the librarians used a phone to get and send messages, they got a real feel for the medium of SMS that will serve them well. The librarians experienced the communication medium in the same way that the patrons do; through this experience, the librarians have become well attuned to the best practices and conventions of communicating via SMS. The implication is that if you are a librarian and you are about to begin staffing a text message reference service that uses a web interface for sending and receiving messages, it helps if you are already comfortable in using SMS on a phone.

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