8 thoughts on “Texting…”

  1. M,
    I was actually shocked to read that information could be invisible to a librarian because it wasn’t available on a particular platform. It’s like saying that unspidered databases don’t exist because Google can’t get to them, or that you won’t use Medline because you prefer the OVID platform, and all your library offers is the MDConsult interface. I jokingly say that, if it’s not in fulltext, it can’t be found. But everyone I say this to knows it’s a joke.

    So my answer is that, as a librarians, information professionals, trained, I hope, to ferret out difficult-to-find information, no one answers in re: invisibility. If I need the information or my users need the information, I see it regardless of platform or format.

    I’m excited about the prospects of TXT , live and breathe the accessibility my iPhone gives me, and am encouraging hospital librarians to apply for funding (they especially could use it, I think) to pilot TXT projects. I hope, however, that enthusiasm for a given product or platform doesn’t blind a user, especially a librarian user, to other sources of content.

  2. As a library user: If my library does not make itself available in my dominant or preferred methods of communication, then it is not making itself accessible to me as a potential patron.
    – Joe

  3. I wouldn’t consider the comment pompous. In fact, I believe Joe has a good point in that I think we are responsible for providing access and guidance to information in a variety of platforms. If texting is a preferred and a widely used method of communication, we should look into such a service. Where would we be now if we had refused to offer online access to journals?

  4. I don’t disagree that we should attempt to be support the desires and needs of our users. But the statement came from a librarian. I was confused as to the “position” of the speaker. Am still confused, in that here is a librarian speaking from the point of view of a user, which precludes listening to the actual voices of users. My experience does not equal the experience of our users. That is, supposedly, what’s wrong with libraries anyway: they address their needs, assuming that they are the needs of their users.

  5. “Libraries that don’t offer texting are basically invisible to me.”

    Is the library responsible for providing information to stupid people?

  6. I’m a library user, not a librarian. We have a beautiful library in our town, but usage is dropping slowly year by year. I think the general point is exactly correct, although I’d call the problem one of friction rather than invisibility. It is, after all, possible for a sufficiently determined person to locate the library, obtain a library card, and borrow a book, provided they have proof of residence, so the library isn’t literally invisible.

    My children use their cell phones far more than I do. My son sends and receives more than a thousand text messages a month. If you have a text interface, you’re clearly going to be more accessible to him, whether you’re lending books or selling pizza. Since he always has his cell phone on him, any other method of interaction is going to be less convenient for him — it’s going to involve more friction.

    I’m like a lot of people in that I’ve gradually moved a lot of activity on to the web, whether it’s renewing my car registration, checking my bank balance, buying a book, or borrowing one. The library web site is just about the least convenient interface I use regularly. Just as one example, if I do a search and locate a book I want, I need to log in to request it, but when I do that I lose my search. The terminology is just a little bit specialized, and it’s not even consistent: after I log in to “my account” I can see “my patron record”. Can you imagine Amazon or LL Bean having a “patron record”? I’m not that interested in bashing the library for having a poor web site, but you can see that any confusion in the user interface is going to mean more friction, and that will ultimately translate into fewer borrowers.

  7. Well, the question was glib, but, yes, libraries are responsible for providing information to stupid people. I don’t think that that demographic has shown up here: wanting TXT reference is not stupid nor is it unrealistic. Libraries should consider whether or not this will be useful to their users: whether or not there is enough demand to warrant the investment in time and money to insure the service and it’s continuity. Joe’s post has inspired me to try to talk medical librarians into attempting the service: I think that there may well be a need there.

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