Text-tastic thoughts

Pittsburgh’s Port Authority is beta-testing RouteShout, a service you can text to find out when your next bus is coming. You can see the GoogleMap of beta stops here, and learn more about deeplocal, the Pittsburgh-based company behind RouteShout, here.

I like the idea of texting a library or librarian for information, but it’s the size of the information packets that concerns me.  Bus arrival times are the perfect information packets for texting, because they’re short, useful and informative.  Longer questions I’m not so sure about – how would that work?  Appropriate library data that comes to mind includes hours of operation, phone numbers, and the location of the library closest to you at any given time.  I know various libraries offer text services, and I’ve been exploring their services to see what we could learn from them.  I know there’s been some dubious press on Mosio‘s Text A Librarian package, in particular, lately, but the idea in its pure form still has merit.

One of the books I read last month, Mobilizing Generation 2.0, devotes an entire chapter to what non-profits could potentially do with cell phone technology. A companion wiki also features a related article for those of us with shoestring budgets (and whose isn’t, these days?) who might not be able to take on another vendor-based service. Of course, I like the notion of the entire consortium teaming up to form Voltron, er, sponsor a countywide text-based service. If you’re going to dream, dream big, right? Right!

At any rate, the book itself is highly recommended, especially because it frames technology issues in such a way that it will make sense to non-librarian bosses/managers/directors. Those of you already on the bandwagon will appreciate the companion website’s extra essays, and may find yourself dreaming more big dreams after seeing the video for The Extraordinaries. I’m loving that slogan, in particular, and wish some library had thought it up first…

Do you text much, personally or professionally? Would texting make sense in the context of your library’s services? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

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  1. ben rigby said,

    February 16, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Hi. Thanks for mentioning my book. Interestingly, there seems to be a good deal of interest in it from the library community – there’s either a tight connection, or you folks just read *a lot.* I posted a while ago about a library connection: http://blog.mobilevoter.org/2008/06/library-patrons.html … which ties into The Extraordinaries…

  2. February 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Ben! Thanks for stopping by – your book is very useful for librarians, and we do read a lot in this area! In fact, that’s why I just now read the book – the waiting list was awfully long. :)

    Thanks, too, for the link. Library world is definitely being proactive at making sure we’re still relevant in the brave new world, and the fact that you wrote a book specifically geared to nonprofits like us is definitely a plus. Looking forward to more of your work!


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