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Text a librarian

135937Here’s a fun one, just in time for finals week at Montana State University.

The Renne Library on campus, where I once toiled as a shelver and circulation desk worker while attending MSU, has been embracing all things digital over the past few years, revamping its website and offering multiple ways to connect with reference librarians.

Now, according to [a post on the library’s reference desk blog](, students or the public can converse with a reference librarian via text message.

Reference team leader Greg Notess said the text service has actually been in place for about a year. The recent blog post was a reminder for those students fighting with end-of-semester deadlines who might need a librarian’s help.

The texts go to a computer at the reference desk, where librarians will respond and attempt to answer questions they same as they would for someone who came to the desk in person.

“It’s often the same kinds of questions we’ll get other ways,” Notess said. “It’s not always easy to answer questions via text — certain ones anyway.”

The texts ask about library services, equipment, hours, how to find certain databases online, how to format certain citations for research bibliographies and even general questions about writing academic papers.

Notess said that the service is not heavily used — it receives perhaps one text per day during the busiest times of the school year. Still, it’s not about how many people use it but about being available in whatever medium students communicate in, he said.

“It’s just using whatever the current technologies … to let students and staff get in touch with us in whatever their preferred method is,” Notess said.

“Sometimes people are texting us even from within the library, even though they could walk up in person,” he added, noting that sometimes a question needs to get an answer right away, without picking up and moving.

Texts can be sent to 406-219-1060. Hours are Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. during the regular semesters.