One theme I noticed at Internet Librarian 2008 was authenticity. I heard at many different presentations that we should be aiming for having authentic conversations with people on websites, be authentic in our marketing efforts, and be authentic when communicating via IM or SMS. I’d even argue that since our OPACs are becoming ghettoized, abnormal piles of data, the rays of hope discovery systems such as SOPAC 2 and VuFind are all about providing normal, authentic web experiences. I agree with all of this talk about authenticity and think that librarians should be celebrating it. After all, isn’t it easier and more fun to just be ourselves rather than to speak with an Official Institutional Voice?
Anyways, during their presentation on text message reference I was hoping that Joe Murphy and Ellen Peterson would give us their recommendation about the best tools to use for the job. Joe recommended the simplest and probably the cheapest option at the best: just using a mobile device. While I have no experience communicating with patrons via SMS, I think this is right on. Why complicate things and remove librarians from the authentic experience? It is probably more difficult to write overly long messages on an actual mobile device than with email to SMS software.
That being said, I’m interested in take a look at the new Text A Librarian product that combines IM, SMS and multi-site/multi-librarian queuing. The Librarian In Black called that the “holy grail” and wrote about the software too.
Here are Ellen and Joe’s slides:
P.S. Be sure to click through on Ellen’s name above to the Blogger site that she’s set up for her students to use as a point of contact. Nifty.