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Monday, August 2, 2010

Why Would I Want To "Text A Librarian?"

Text messaging is a funny thing - polarizing, I'd say. I have friends and family members who don't text and don't want to. My parents, both in their mid-seventies, are reluctant to even use their mobile phone, an older model without any features like texting or a camera. That's okay. My overall feeling about technology is: use what works for you, not what everyone tells you to use.

Nevertheless, I find myself doing more and more text messaging. I have friends who text me any hour of the day or night, the messages often coming like rapid-fire conversation. Faster and more concise than email, I also find that texting commands a bit more attention. An email says, "Hello - look at me at your convenience." A text message says, "Hey, I need you right now!"

Last February we rolled out our "Text A Librarian" service and it's growing more popular all the time. Have you tried it? It couldn't be easier.
  • From your mobile phone (if it offers text messaging), send a message to 66746 
  • Make sure the first word of your message is dppl. If you simply want to register for the service and use it at a later time, that's all you need to do. You'll receive a confirmation message and some instructions. 
  • You can also add your first question after the dppl code. Once you've sent in your first question, you no longer have to type dppl - the system will recognize you and send your questions to our library.
Example: Text message to 66746 --> dppl what are your hours today?
After that first question, you no longer need to type dppl.

What kinds of questions do we get?
Can I get the # for the Honda motorcycle dealer in the area?
What are the hours for the nearest DMV office?
Do you have a copy of There Are No Children Here on the shelf?
Is it too late to register for the program on jewelry making?
What are the seven deadly sins?

Obviously, questions with short answers work best. If you need more detailed and in-depth assistance, "I need help with my term paper on Herman Melville," best to come in person or email the Reference Desk. Save our SMS/text number 66746 on your phone and try us the next time you're stumped. Note: we can only answer your text questions during regular business hours, although I have been known to check in from home after-hours. A few more details for the curious - when you send us a text message through this service, it comes to our desktop computers, not our phones. We type our responses into a Web application, the service translates those answers back into text messages. Your cell phone number and other identifying information are kept completely private.

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