Library expands online services with texting and eMedia card
According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Americans currently have broadband Internet connections at home, compared to roughly 50 percent in 2000, and nearly two-thirds of Americans now own smartphones. As more of its customers are turning to these online options, Heights Libraries is ready to reach them with two new services: text alerts for holds and an online-only eMedia card.
The text alerts are not, technically, new—they have been available since 2010. Recent technical changes behind the scenes have made it a much easier process. “So many of our customers have turned their phones into great organizational and informational tools—it is natural that they would prefer to be informed about their hold materials in this manner,” said Ty Emerson, Heights Libraries’ circulation services manager. “Essentially, the customer can request that we adjust their profile to send text messages instead of calling or sending an e-mail when their hold items are available. This can be done at any time, and can be easily changed should the customer change their phone number.”
The text messages contain first name, number of items, library, and “pick-up-by” date. No author or title information can be given due to limited characters available in text messaging.
A hold alert can be texted, but the customer still has to come in to a building to pick up the items. But what if a customer is unable or unwilling to enter a Heights Libraries building, even to apply for a library card? That person can apply for a new eMedia card. The eMedia card is really a numeric access code that gives customers access to Heights Libraries online-only materials—movies, TV shows, music, eBooks, audiobooks, digital magazines, and databases—from home computers and other electronic devices.
One difference between a traditional, physical library card and an eMedia card is that the eMedia card application process requires no photo ID or signature, so the application can be made online at www.heightslibrary.org. Customers receive their eMedia card number via e-mail a few days after they apply, and can begin using it immediately for online resources. The eMedia card cannot, however, be used for physical items such as books, DVDs and CDs, nor to put holds on those items.
“While a traditional card offers access to a wider variety of materials, our eMedia card offers a crucial option for those customers who may be unable to get to our buildings for a variety of reasons, which may include mental health or mobility challenges,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “This is just another way to ensure all residents have access to as many materials as possible.”
Customers who already have a standard library card do not need an eMedia card to access online materials.
To learn more about the eMedia card or Heights Libraries’ text messaging service, visit www.heightslibrary.org or call 216-932-3600.
Sheryl Banks is the marketing and community relations manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.