When students need answers to their questions, there is now a new way on campus for them to find them. This fall, Hoover Library implemented a service called “Text a Librarian.” The service has been in the works since last spring and was developed by Reference and Instructional Technologies Librarian Rhonda Stricklett, who also answers text messages received through the program along with Reference and Instruction Coordinator Sally Jones.
The service allows students to send questions to the Library via text message and receive responses from a librarian.
“Let’s say I’m a student and I want to find out ‘Where can I find reserves?’” says Stricklett. “When a student sends a text message, it actually comes in on the computer to us so it’s not like it comes in to my phone.”
Once the text message is received, the computer alerts the librarian, who also receives an email about the question. From there, the librarian can type the answer, “At the front desk,” into a box and hit send. The student would receive a text message with an answer in reply. Typically, it only takes a few minutes for a response.
The information the library can provide through the Text a Librarian service is not limited to information about the library itself. Students can text all sorts of questions, such as, “Who was the sixth president of the United Sates?” and receive answers.
Of course, admits Stricklett, texting isn’t the best way to ask complex questions. However, it’s a good way to start a conversation. For example, it would probably be better for a student wanting to know the effects of music on the brain to set up an appointment in the library. Library appointments can help students utilize the library’s tools and create search terms to seek information.
Students are not limited to sending text messages to have their questions answered. There is also a form online for questions to be submitted. Students can go to hoover.mcdaniel.edu and click on “Ask a Librarian” under the “Need Help?” tab. A database with answers to frequently asked questions is also on that page.
The Text a Librarian service is not limited to students either. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays, students and anyone else can text their questions to 410-346-5640.
“We do get questions from the public,” says Stricklett. “I believe in the free flow of information, so I want to be able to answer questions as people have them.”