Mosio, makers of the Text a Librarian mobile reference service, recently announced the launch of Mobile PRM, a set of new features which let libraries send out text-message alerts and announcements to subscriber lists or individual patrons who have opted in. The new features are included with all existing Text a Librarian plans.
Mobile PRM—which stands for “Patron Relationship Management”—changes the dynamic for the Text a Librarian service, which debuted in 2008 and is currently used in 800 public and academic libraries in the United States. Formerly, all patrons using the service would begin the interaction with the library; now libraries can start the conversation by, for example, texting an announcement about an in-library event.
Text alerts have been a standby in other enterprises for years. Indeed, Mosio itself has supplied such services for large-scale events and government organizations, as well as other businesses. One reason the feature was added to Text a Librarian, said Noel Chandler, CEO of Mosio, was to respond to librarians looking for ways to get more patrons to use the service. When a library sends out a text alert, it “prime[s] the pump for communication to take place,” Chandler said. Once an alert is sent, librarians may answer queued replies directly, or they may set up the system to send back automated replies.
However, the new features are not a license for librarians to spam their patrons; all recipients of texts must opt in, Chandler said, according to strict guidelines [PDF] set up by the Mobile Marketing Association.
Mosio also appears to responding to competition from mobile apps, such as Boopsie’s, which are connected to integrated library systems (ILSs). (For example, Boopsie unveiled self-check functionality for its custom apps earlier this year.) Chandler told LJ that Mosio is aiming to add ILS integration to Text a Librarian in the near future, so that, for example, patrons could respond to overdue notices with texted renewal requests.