Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 7, 2012

Have a question? Send a text to a local librarian

Library launches new answer-by-text service

By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer

— Who was the 17th president of the United States?

If you’re not sure, the answer is only a text away thanks to a new service offered by the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library.

Trisha Shively, head of adult and teens services who came up with the answer-by-text idea, said any nagging question you’ve ever had but didn’t know the answer to can now be answered by a local librarian by simply sending a text to 765-319-8270.

Whether you’re wondering how fast a bullet travels or which city council member represents your area, inquirers can expect to receive a reply with a documented source within 15 minutes, she said.

Shively explained the new service helps the library continue its commitment to meet the changing needs of a technology-driven world. It’s also a way to package that commitment in way that younger patrons will like.

“One of our goals is to get teens and people from the younger generation to use the library,” she said. “If they want an answer, they want it now, and this is just another opportunity for us to answer questions and get our services out to people.”

The library will also place Quick Response Codes — barcode-like signs you can scan with a smartphone or other mobile device — that links a phone directly to the text number at the different branches and on the library newsletter.

The service may be a new way for the library to communicate knowledge, but Shively said librarians aren’t opposed to using old-fashioned methods like phone books or reference guides to get the answers. Of course, online sources will be used, too.

So far, she said two questions have been submitted through the text service — who won the 1976 World Series and what are the library’s hours.

And what are the answers? Well, you’ll just have to text to find out.

• Carson Gerber, Kokomo reporter, may be reached via 765-854-6739 or via email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com