Illinois State Library launches “Text a Librarian” service

Ever wish you had access to a super genius through your mobile phone?  Someone that could reference gigantic databases of information and find what you’re looking for quickly?  Well, now you can.  It’s a service called “Siri” “Text a Librarian” and it’s available on every mobile phone in Illinois.

The Illinois State Library has launched a new texting service that allows users to request information from library staff via text message.  Anyone that can send and receive text messages can now send one to the Illinois State Library.  Library staff will read through the messages as they come and try to respond with quick, informative answers.

Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White hopes that the texting service will be just another way for the library to provide information to its patrons.  Library staff could already be reached via e-mail, phone, fax or in person.

There is no charge for the service other than the standard message and data fees charged by the mobile service provider.

The service is intended for quick reference questions that can be answered in short text messages.  Patrons are advised to use other means of communication if the question they have requires a long answer.

Most librarians have an ALA-accredited master’s degree as well as a great deal of knowledge and experience in responding to patrons’ requests for information.  All that education and information navigation is now available through a simple text message.

It’ll be interesting to see what the response times are with the texting service.  Usually when you text someone, you expect a response rather quickly.  I can easily see this text message service getting hit with a ton of spam or joke text messages.  If the response times are slow, it could result in a bunch of disappointed users.