Purpose – Short Message Service (SMS) is an application that is widely used by all types of mobile telephone users. Integration of these short messages for marketing different products and services has become a common practice in e-commerce. This study aims to look at how SMS-based mobile alerts can be effectively implemented in libraries for successfully marketing the library services and providing value-added services. This study seeks to follow-up an original pilot project conducted by the University of Swaziland and Emerald Group Publishing on SMS-based alert services for a smaller group of users on Emerald's Intouch platform. In this new study the authors aim to try the same project with a combination of multiple databases and a heterogeneous user groups on an independent platform.
Design/methodology/approach – With the experiences gained from the UNISWA-Emerald pilot project on SMS alerts a similar project with a wider scope was attempted at Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, India, where an attempt was made to see whether a similar content alert system, based on the prototype suggested in the pilot project, can be effectively implemented using the same technology on an independent platform with a semi-automated system compared to the manual system of the pilot. The methodology, findings, data and the experience gained during the pilot project as well as the follow-up project are predominantly used in this paper.
Findings – This study confirms that the prototype suggested in the pilot project can be implemented on an independent platform with multiple databases by using the same parameters. It proves that a successful SMS-based alert service similar to a SDI service can be implemented using the SMS messaging and have the potential to successfully market library services to its patrons.
Research limitations/implications – This project is a second in the sequence where the authors have tried a heterogeneous user group and mobile alerts consists of the different databases subscribed to by the university library. The alerts were dependent on the effective e-mail-based alerts provided by the publishers. The keywords used were generalized and the users provided the keyword based on their personal needs. The major limitation was the manual transmission of the SMS, which needs to be automated with a script. Another limitation was the maximum size of SMS texts. Whenever the texts exceeded 140 characters, only hyperlinks were sent with the actual content being kept as a webpage in the server.
Practical implications – This project can be implemented as it is since it generalizes the process of implementing a result-oriented SMS-based alert service.
Originality/value – This study presents a method for implementing an SMS-based alert service in libraries. With the experiences gained in a series of practical environments the authors have attempted to document the practical experience, which can be implemented in its present form. With mobile alerts gaining prominence in library services and very little material are available on SMS-based alert services in libraries this may serve as an important milestone in integrating such a service into the future integrated library services.
Purpose – Short Message Service (SMS) is an application which is widely used in mobile telephony. SMS messaging through mobile phones is very popular among young and old. This study aims to look at how SMS technology can be very effectively used in library and information services with a glimpse into a pilot project conducted by University of Swaziland and Emerald Group Publishing Limited and the subsequent need for creating a prototype for the SMS-based library alert services and marketing of library services.
Design/methodology/approach – Following the pilot project conducted by the University of Swaziland and Emerald Group Publishing Limited for a period of two months (March-April 2009), the findings and the methodology used for the project prompted further research. Data and experience gained during the pilot project is predominantly used in the paper.
Findings – This study finds that the library users can be successfully motivated and engaged to use the resources through SMS messaging and have the potential to market library services. It also finds out that there is a need to have a prototype for essential services for the benefit of the users as well as to market the library resources.
Research limitations/implications – The pilot project was a short project with specific user base. This project was not tested on heterogeneous user base. The prototype model also works on certain assumptions and limitations. At the prototype level different files are suggested and they are handled separately because of which an open ended script method is suggested. Longer SMSs, which cannot be sent by the SMS server, need to be either split up into several messages or stored in the server as a webpage and sent as a hyperlink in SMSs.
Practical implications – To implement the prototype, various steps highlighted in the paper are to be followed and since each action needs to be operated separately, it cannot be claimed as a single click SMS-based alert service.
Originality/value – This study presents a method for implementing SMS-based alert service in libraries. With the experience gained in a similar practical environment, an attempt has been made to create a prototype. This may serve as an important milestone in integrating such a service into the future integrated library services (ILS).