May 25, 2022

Conference Paper: If We Build it, Will They Come? — Understanding Reference Users in the Age of Texting

This paper will be presented at the upcoming World Library and Information Congress, 78th IFLA General Conference and Assembly that will take Helsinki this August.


If we build it, will they come? — Understanding reference users in the age of texting (9 pages; PDF)


Lili Luo
School of Library and Information Science
San Jose State University


IFLA General Conference Web Site


Libraries have always embraced communication technologies to provide reference services. While text messaging becomes a significant avenue for communication and social activities in people’s daily lives, it is rapidly gaining popularity in the library world as well. A new form of reference service, text messaging reference (TMR), has emerged, enabling library users to seek help from librarians via texting.

A research project funded by Institute of Museum and Library Services in the United States has been under take to actively investigate how library users perceive and use TMR. A close scrutiny of TMR from the user’s perspective is essential to ensuring successful service delivery and satisfactory user experiences. Findings from this will offer a thorough depiction of how user information needs can be successfully fulfilled by TMR, and therefore yield insights to help libraries develop TMR best practices, and effectively and efficiently promote and deliver the service to library users.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.