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Today, a group of us attended the Handheld Librarian, an online conference about using mobile devices to deliver library services. I’m reporting on the session about Cornell’s experience launching their text reference service.

In August of 2008, Cornell University library launched their text-a-librarian service.Librarians there had recognized that approximately 90% of Americans carry mobile phones and when approached by Mosio, a supplier, and asked to beta test their program, Cornell agreed.The development phase lasted through spring break and included changes, both major and minor, such as revising the software to disassociate the cell phone number from the user to protect user privacy.The development period also included extensive training time for the reference desk staff.In the spring the library had a soft launch so they could work out any issues before driving a lot of traffic to the service.As part of this testing period, they asked members of one class to use the service; 26 texts were received over a 90-day period, most asking circulation and direction-type questions.The library has prepared its own promotional materials and plans a major roll-out this fall. The program that runs the service is from Mosio ( ; the interface looks simple and easy to use, but comes with an annual subscription price of $1,139 or their basic service. The Cornell librarians have been very happy with the service and expect to see a lot of activity on the new service this coming semester. The slides from this presentation will be available for 6 months if you’d like to view this or other presentations.