KGB Answers your Text Messages 7

kgbNo, 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

7 thoughts on “KGB Answers your Text Messages

  • Chris Oien

    The answer to that may very well be yes, depending on the community being served and what demand there is out there for it. Another question I have is, how do libraries get out of the “responding to X” frame of mind? Responding to others’ innovations is what Internet Explorer does, and as a result it’s always behind and never the first choice.

  • Kyle

    Hey Chris-
    I have my own ideas about why it *seems* that libraries are always responding to others’ innovations – I’d say this isn’t always the case – but I get what you’re saying.

    So why do you think it is that libraries aren’t on the bleeding edge of innovation?

    Thanks for your comment-

  • Alan

    I think the answer to your question is “Yes,” but you asked the wrong question.

    “Yes, Libraries should respond to their patrons,” is the answer to the right question.

  • Kyle

    Hey Alan,

    Thanks for stopping by. That’s a solid point you make. I could be splitting hairs here, but it’s like Chris pointed out, we respond to other innovations because that’s what our patrons – their customers – respond to.

    I think until we do what Chris is asking and become innovative in the first place, in many ways we’ll always be responding to KGB and similar companies. Look at how Netflix, Amazon, and the like have created so much discussion in library literature and the library blogosphere about services the profession could be offering.

    But kudos to those libraries – and there are many of them – that are first innovators and user centric.


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