Services & Policies - Fall 2010

Text a UofS Librarian: The Newest Virtual Reference Service at the Weinberg Memorial Library

It's the end of class, and you're trying to figure out when you can stop by the Weinberg Memorial Library to look up an article for your latest assignment. You want to get some dinner and swing by your friend's room before you can get to the library. You wonder what time the library will be closing tonight, and wish there was a way to find out the library's hours quickly, without having to actually make a phone call or pull up the library's website on your phone or laptop.
Well, now there is a really simple way to ask a librarian a question that you need answered quickly: Text a UofS Librarian at 570-687-8787.
Our new Text a UofS Librarian service is ideal for questions like: What time is the library open until?, Do I need my Royal Card to print?, Do you have this book and what's the call number if you do?, and more. Any library-related question you have, which can be answered in 140 characters or less, can be texted to this number during hours when the library is open and a librarian will text you back with a response as quickly as possible.
You may be wondering how does this new service work? Have all the librarians learned to use phones with QWERTY keypads so well that we'll be able to monitor a special library cell phone during all of the hours the library is open, in addition to our other duties? Not quite, although there are a handful of us that do text on a regular basis, but not enough of us where that sort of service model would be effective. No, instead of texting you back on an actual phone, any text messages sent to our Text a UofS Librarian phone number will be rerouted to our Instant Messaging account, which the librarians have been using to answer your IM reference questions for several years now. There is an actual phone involved on our end though, i.e., the Reference Department's newest acquisition, the Motorola Droid (see picture). When you text our Droid at the number above, there is a special app that will forward your text message to our reference desk computer.
Text a UofS Librarian:
This way, when a librarian responds, we can type out our response and send it like an IM, and it will land on the student's phone as a text message. Our software even detects when the incoming question is a text message, and gives us a character countdown starting at 140, so we will be sure to send our responses in small 140-character transmissions. If you text us when the library is not open, a librarian will respond to your text message when we open the next day. And, if you actually call the phone number above, your call will be forwarded to the reference desk phone, so don't worry if you add our number to your contacts and find yourself wanting to actually call us instead of texting.
As with all things related to texting, please be aware that standard text messaging rates apply, and the library is not responsible for these charges. But, we're also counting on many students having a data plan that includes a high volume or unlimited number of text messages each month, so adding the Text a UofS Librarian phone number to your contacts will put the library conveniently at your fingertips in a way we were not available to you before.
So, the next time you have a question for a UofS librarian, send us a text message at 570-687-8787 and see how easy it is to get answers when you need them.
Donna Mazziotti
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition