No, it’s not the secret service of the Soviet Union – it is, however, the commercialized reference desk. KGB, or the knowledge generation bureau as they sometimes call themselves, provides a two-way text reference service straight to mobile devices. Anywhere. Anytime.
Which begs these questions: What about the reference desk? Why not ask a librarian?
You’ll never hear me say or read that I think the reference desk is dead – because it’s not. But I will say that we can see in the KBG that there is a niche for text message information resources and they are filling it. The question I personally wonder about is how libraries should respond.
KGB has the distinct advantage of being a company with a clear vision to provide this particular type of reference service. Libraries are obviously multifaceted in the ways they provide information resources and this dilutes, to some extent, the ability to provide a highly used text reference service.
I would venture to guess that the success depends on marketing. KGB has created a marketing campaign, traveled the country, and has a very clear brand. If libraries are to create their own “KGB” service it will all come down to how it is pushed to the user and the community the library serves.
So I ask Michael’s fervid readers this:
Should libraries respond to KGB and offer their own text reference services?
TTW Contributor: Kyle Jones