Students, faculty and staff at Arizona Western College (AWC) can now text questions to the college’s librarians and expect answers within a few minutes.The new feature, which the college shares with Northern Arizona University along with a campus and library, will allow library users to text general library questions or to book a study room.AWC added the feature mainly to accommodate students who had “on-the-go questions” but don’t at the time have access to a computer, said Jocelyn Bates, an information technology librarian at the college.“We knew that since they had smart phones, they had to be texting,” she said, noting a campus survey that indicated most students on campus owned smart phones.Most community college libraries offer some type of texting feature, said Sarah Raley, director of the Community College Library Consortium, which represents mainly two-year colleges in California. The majority of libraries on community college campuses use free basic text services, typically because they don’t have the budgets for more elaborate services that charge fees. Those systems, for example, can pool libraries so an employee from one of the participating colleges is always on call to answer questions, which save on resources.
One day, when I was working as a reference assistant at an academic library, something went wrong with our wireless router. While most students were understandably frustrated, one looked pleased. “I’ve already downloaded everything I have to read,” she said. “Now I might actually be able to read them without feeling like I have to check Gchat and Twitter.”As a 2011 master’s graduate of the University of Michigan School of Information, I’ve embraced my alma mater’s mission of connecting people, information and technology in more valuable ways – while coming to believe that sometimes disconnecting is a valuable step toward fulfilling that mission. I’ve therefore dedicated my Google Policy Fellowship at ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) to studying the impact of our networking technologies on our minds and trying to find ways to use this technology in ways that really do make us more productive, better educated, freer and happier, instead of stressed and scatterbrained.