You will provide a phone number and keyword to your users. We recommend promoting your library’s keyword and phone # on your web page. The user will type your keyword before their question and then text the message to the local phone number. For a list of keywords and phone numbers, click here.
Your reply just needs to be 160 characters or less. In order to keep within the spacing limit, shorten any URLs using the bit.ly URL shortener in the SMS Helper tab in the console.
Not necessarily. It must be 160 characters or less, but you do want to send as comprehensive or helpful a reply as possible within that spacing framework. Make good use of your available space.
No, because not all users will have Web-browsing capabilities. Such users depend on text, and wouldn’t be able to click on those nifty links you sent! The best practice is to send both wherever possible and applicable.
Yes, if you are marked Available, a chime and pop-up will alert you to new questions if you are not currently replying to a text or in a chat.
To ensure that the text is sent and received correctly, the user should put the keyword at the start of the text message. For example, if a Bay County Library user has the question “Are you open on Sundays?”, the message body should be: bay Are you open on Sundays? This will identify the user as a Bay County Library System user in the software, and puts “Bay County Library” in the Subject line of the text. To find your library’s keyword, click here.
If the text question is going to be answered immediately by a statewide librarian, what is the point of the patron’s inclusion of the library code (keyword)?
The software uses that keyword to identify each incoming text as a user of “Library X”, which helps librarians with the answer. If the user asks: what time do you close? do you carry Book X? or similar questions, the librarian knows who they are helping and can reply with local information. It also gives more library-system-specific statistics.
No, these scripts have been counted. However, the more information you add to customize a message, the more characters you use, so you may want to use the SMS Helper for a final character count.
User surveys and market research indicate college age students 18-24 will be the heaviest users with 13-17 and 25-34 year olds following closely behind.
Yes – everything must be shorter than 160; that is all a phone receives for a text message. Their original message doesn’t go back to them, just the new message.
This enables libraries to have greater flexibility on coverage. In addition to the Collaborative and Academic staff who are receiving texts, other libraries can answer texts while staffing just their local desk.
We are only scheduled for 1 hour per week on the collab desk….what happens if our library is texted during the week and we aren’t on the desk?
All texts will enter the “texting” queue. If you are not staffing the texting queue, a librarian staffing either the collaborative or academic queue will answer the question for your library. To help them efficiently answer questions, take a few moments to create scripts for your library and make sure your library’s knowledge base entry is up to date. The more information you provide, the better your users will be served.
When I am scheduled for the Academic or Collaborative Desk, do I just pick up those text messages from my library’s users?
No; all staff covering the Collaborative and Academic desks are required to answer incoming text messages collaboratively, just like chat. This is very important because texting is a collaborative service (like chat); it isn’t a local-only service like email. Just make sure you check the Texting Department box along with Academic or Collaborative when logging into the software.
When the Collaborative and Academic desks are open, staff logged into those desks should also be logged into Texting and answering texts as well as chats. If you notice that no one is answering during posted hours, please post a friendly reminder to the Agent Room (group chat area) in case Ask a Librarian staff are not immediately available and send us an email so that we can take steps to ensure that texts are answered.
Will it be possible to log on to a “texting” only desk, without being on the collab or academic desk? Can I staff local and texting?
Yes, you can staff your local library department and texting, and even just texting if you’re in the mood to help or explore.
If I am logged into both my local desk and Texting, will emails and texts both show up in the Mail Queue?
Yes, texts and your users’ emails will display in the Mail Queue. However, it is easy to differentiate between them because texts will show “Texting” under the Department heading and your emails will show your library name. Just click on ”Department” at the top to sort them, so that your emails are grouped on top or vice versa.
Does the user’s inclusion of the keyword determine whether he or she is helped by local or statewide staff?
No, texts will always enter the Mail Queue of the Texting Department, which all Collaborative and Academic staff should be simultaneously logged into. The keyword just tells the software what library system that user is associated with, and puts that library’s name in the Subject area to help you.
If the Academic and Collaborative staff all see incoming texts, are there any tips for picking up my own users when I’m only doing local?
Sure – just click on the “Subject” heading to sort incoming texts alphabetically by library name.
Yes. From the bit.ly FAQ page, “bit.ly links cannot be edited. They also do not expire and cannot be changed, so they will always redirect to the site for which they were originally created. It’s always a good idea to check that your long URL and/or custom name are correct before creating, sharing, or printing your bit.ly links.”
As soon as possible, but our goal is to have texts picked up and replied to within 4 minutes.
No, it will still be received in the Texting queue, just without an associated library name. Instead of the library name, the Subject line will contain the word “Collaborative” or just the phone number, depending on the user’s settings. We get similar questions on the statewide chat desks.
The url will appear like bit.ly/324535435 (not a real url) – instead of www.askalibrarian.org/askalibrarianlovestohelppeople. It saves space to respect the 160-character limit.
Yes, the same categories exist for texting as for chat.
Thanks to an improvement in February 2012, that is no longer necessary! The only requirement now for text messages is the spacing limit of 160 characters or less in your reply.
Texting lingo could come in handy when you need to free up space in order to give them more content, but isn’t necessary if the 160-character spacing limit isn’t an issue. In fact, unnecessary lingo could limit comprehension for some users, so if you do use lingo, make sure you stick with shortcuts you think the user will understand (based on the structure of the text question, the popularity of the lingo used, etc.).