Reference 'Geek' Promotes Library Texting

September 6, 2010

Reference 'Geek' Promotes Library Texting


Jeffrey Gallant is a self-proclaimed techno-nerd (geek), a perception corroborated by his convoluted title -- Reference Librarian and Instructor of Library Science / Electronic Resources and Technology Librarian. In layman’s terms, Gallant is one of the library’s techie experts; and he has spent the last few months introducing Odum to new communication technologies such as texting -- LOL.

“At Odum Library, we want our patrons to see the reference desk as a welcoming, safe place, and part of that is communicating with patrons in their most comfortable communication method,” said Gallant, who started working at VSU in April. “Library texting works especially well when a student, staff or faculty member has a quick question for us, such as ‘What are your hours today?’ or ‘Where is color printing available?’ Patrons, who may be a bit lost in the bookshelves, can have a quick text message conversation to guide them.”

The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently named text messaging “the centerpiece of communication” among teenagers. Those surveyed indicated that they text message more than any other form of communication -- with a third of them sending more than 100 text messages per day, or 3,000 per month.

Members of the VSU community may text simple questions to 229-234-1947 for quick answers from the Odum Library Reference Desk during regular business hours. Standard text messaging rates apply for each message sent or received. Patrons may also chat live with librarians by clicking the “Live Chat” link on the right side of the Odum home page, . Students may also e-mail more in-depth or less timely questions through an e-mail form located at .

System-wide Implementation

Valdosta State is one of several University System of Georgia schools chosen to test a new software that allows -- among other things -- students to send catalog numbers to their phones rather than writing the lengthy numbers down on scrap paper. GIL-Find, located at , also enables users to mark favorites, receive search updates and check on the location and availability of a variety of resources.

Text and instant messaging options are just two of the technological advancements Gallant is hoping the VSU community will embrace. The video-game enthusiast is eager to make the library more mobile-friendly so that patrons can view and interact with library functions on the go. Such technology includes a library home page specific for viewing on mobile devices.

“I am also working with Maureen Puffer-Rothenburg, one of our cataloging librarians, and our library automation department to make some of our interesting collections more apparent to website visitors through Web 2.0 applications,” said the Massachusetts native. If you would like to see an example, go to the Odum home page, , and click the "Popular Books" icon under “News and Events.”

Being a research librarian, Gallant is quick to point out that any introduction of new technologies is the result of intensive library science research and cross-campus collaboration to assess the wants and needs of Odum patrons. Gallant said he strives to plug himself into the foremost social networking/communications technologies and explore how to infuse their conveniences into library services.

The Rhythm of Technology

Gallant is keenly aware of the impact research and an accommodating library staff can have on one’s life. The classically-trained saxophonist developed a love for “the stacks” during intensive research about composers and works at Northwestern University, where he earned a Master of Music Degree in Performance.

“It was especially the work my teachers that led me to understand the power of information, and inspired me to pursue a career in Library and Information Science after my master's work,” said Gallant, who serves as the Odum Library liaison to the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business. “I subsequently received my Master of Science in Library and Information Science degree from Simmons College in Boston, Mass.”

Gallant and his wife, Jenny -- who has a degree in music education with a minor in Japanese -- live in Valdosta and as you would imagine, text quite frequently.