The New Text Messaging Reference Service at Prairie State College Library

The New Text Messaging Reference Service at Prairie State College Library

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This proposal recommends the implementation of a new text- messaging reference service at the Prairie State College library. This service would extend the library’s current limited virtual services, by allowing students to send and receive answers to reference questions via text outside the library’s physical location, as well as normal business hours. To ensure cost effective implementation, the service would take advantage of the university’s current email system, allowing librarians to receive and respond to reference inquiries sent via text through an online platform.

As consistent with Prairie State College’s current strategic plan to support the usage of innovative technology that facilitate “new ways to engage and communicate with students, ” as well as in their past initiatives in incorporating and expanding technology in the library and across campus to “enhance student success, ” this proposal makes the case for creating a new text-based reference service to enhance and extend the current reference services offered at the Prairie State College Library to reach a new segment of students (Prairie State College Strategic; Prairie State College 2011). Currently, the library’s reference services are limited to certain pre-defined hours between Monday and Saturday, and one slower virtual reference method (email) for students seeking assistance outside the library’s physical location (Prairie State College Get; Department of Education Prairie). As a commuter college where over half of the students attend part-time, the library hours are must frustrating for night students. In addition to the part-time students, a large number of students also work outside of school; making it nearly impossible for them to get to the ...


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... below (Weimer 113-115). Finally, at Bryant University, an institution very similar to Prairie State College in terms of the student population, a similar trend was seen, with a high demand for the type of service exhibited during final exams, reaching a total of about 400 inquiries within the first year alone (Kohl & Keating 104-106). In the end, as the empirical data from some of the other institutions shows, a text-messaging reference service can be very successful, and there is room for this type of service to succeed at Prairie State College. Although not much direct empirical data is available related to user perceptions on this type of service, surveys from a few institutions have shown a high percentage of users being satisfied by this type of service (see Chart 2.0 below), as well as the anonymity and speed that it brings with it (Ruppel & Vecchione 7-8).

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