28 February 2009

Texting, teens and libraries

A few weeks ago, I sat in on a demonstration for a texting application that allows patrons to text questions from their phones to reference librarians. It seemed like an interesting application to me, and as I was listening to the presentation, I thought it would be a great application to encourage teens to use the reference area of the library (and reference librarians) more.

So, I'm sitting there listening to and watching the on-line presentation, and a colleague sitting next to me says, "This is interesting and everything - but who would really use this? Do people really text that much?"

I replied that I thought it would be most useful for, and most used by, teens. My supervisor agreed...his daughter (in her early twenties) texts more than she emails or IM's. Most of the shelvers at the branch I used to work at (all kids under 25 and all in college) are constantly texting...even the recently enacted no-Facebook-at-work-policy hasn't put a dent in their at-work texting (as indicated by the number of texts I still receive from one of them).

All of this is a preface to a blog entry I read from the YALSA blog - at ALA Midwinter, a teen services librarian asked for recommendations for online free texting services because teens who visit her library want to recieve notifications of programs, etc. via text.

Here's the link to the blog post. I find it interesting that YAs are texting so much, that they're demanding it from the library, and that technology seems to be following suit...or, rather, the providers of technology are following suit. Here is the product that our library is looking into: it is called, appropriately enough, Text-a-Librarian.


  1. I think texting services are a great idea. Banks, cell phone companies and even restaurants are already doing it. Teens (and adults in general) are busy people who might not be able to email or call whenever they have a question, but they can almost always find a second to text someone. If it gets more teens involved, and more people in general, then why not give it a shot?

  2. I think the major motivating factor behind these kinds of services is the same thing that drives my dad and fiance to use their iPhones to access Wikipedia - the desire for immediate answers to whatever burning question we may have. On the one hand, this may seem like another case of "instant gratification is too slow." On the other, you no longer have to worry about forgetting what that little tidbit you wanted to look up was when you were waiting for a table at a restaurant.