Usually I like to leave speculations about the place of upcoming technologies in libraries to Shifty or perhaps the Tamer. I’ve been mainly talking about the things I’m currently implementing in the library at which I work.

I’m going to have to make an exception for Yahoo! Alerts which is in beta presently. Yahoo! will send you information about topic that you’ve selected in various formats.

The least interesting offering from Yahoo! Alerts is alert by email. Getting a bit warmer is alerts by Yahoo Instant Messenger. Hot, however, is alerts by Short Message Service, always known as SMS. For those that haven’t used SMS, think of it as Instant Messeging, phone-to-phone. Through SMS one can send short (160 characters) text messages in real time. I’ve signed up for the “Breaking News” alert, and a local weather alert that will be delivered via SMS to my phone.

If you haven’t used SMS, it probably isn’t because you’re not a rich technocrat, but rather because of your age. Consider this, 47% of adults with children use SMS as opposed to 28% without children.

If you haven’t used SMS, you very well may in the future. Here are some stats from a company called InphoMatch which carries 30% of text messages sent in the US:

  • over 2 billion messages were sent during Q1 of 2004.
  • this is an increase of about 37% from Q4 2003

The total number of messages they sent in 2003 was 4 billion, they’ve done more than half of 2003 in Q1 of 2004. [link to stats]

One last number. The British youth marketing info company Mobile Youth says that people in the UK are sending 2 billion SMS messages per month. Wow.

I guess the numbers are fine and dandy, but the fact that Yahoo! is offering alerts by SMS is enough to set off the “libraries will need to get involved with this” alarm in my head. People are using this technology, and the numbers will increase. The challenge isn’t going to be getting patrons to adopt this technolgy because we’re interested in delivering information to them in this way. The challenge will be letting them know that we offer it. If we do.

I made a short post about SMS in libraries here a while back. I plan to follow through and talk to our ILS vendor about SMS next time I see them.

I leave you with this photo, taken at the local VW dealership:

Leave a Reply