Wednesday, July 22, 2009

International Collaborative Text Reference Service Launches

East Peoria — July 16, 2009

It’s official! People are now sending more text messages than they are making cell phone calls. Librarians are aware of the popularity of texting and are ready to take their professional services to cell phones.

Starting today, patrons of approximately 50 libraries from all over the US will be able to text a question to (309) 222-7740 and a real, live librarian will respond within minutes. The service is free of charge, but standard text messaging rates do apply. Staffed by librarians from around the country, answers are sent to cell phones by librarians in 320 characters or less, or the equivalent of two 160-character text messages.

It’s a different way of helping people get the answers they need, wherever they are at the time, with professional assistance. The service, named My Info Quest is the first collaborative text messaging reference service of its kind. Alliance Library System in East Peoria, Illinois has partnered with participating libraries, Altarama and Web Clarity Software Inc., developers of Peoplewhere to build this exciting new reference service. The pilot program will extend until December 31, 2009. Other partners include San Jose State University Graduate School of Library and Information Science, South Central Regional Library Council in New York, and TAP Information Services.

"Text reference service is the next big 'thing' to hit libraries," said Kitty Pope, Executive Director of the Alliance Library System.

"It is important because it augments traditional core reference services and meets our customers where they are. I would like to thank all the libraries who are so eager to learn this new service and to our great partners Altarama, Peoplewhere, San Jose State, TAP Information and the South Central Regional Library Council in New York; without your enthusiastic support and encouragement this project would have been impossible!"

"The technology is the easy part. The hard part has been months of planning and preparation by dozens of creative and committed library professionals, and we're delighted to be along for the ride," said Arthur Brady, President and CEO of Altarama.

"This exciting project is a great fit for our staff scheduling software, PeopleWhere," states Allison Standen, VP of Business Development for WebClarity Software Inc. "We are happy to take on the challenge inherent in balancing the 50+ participants volunteering 1 to 2 hours a week with the goal of consistent coverage for core hours every day of the week. We also look forward to bringing the knowledge tracking aspects of PeopleWhere online to help the My Info Quest service optimize its resources."

The hours of service will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information about My Info Quest and for a list of participating libraries, check out here.

The project is still accepting new library members to join in August. Please contact Lori Bell at, or 309-694-9200 ext. 2128 if you would like to join or more information on the project.

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