Recently, I read a Facebook post about a librarian who helped a young homeless man set up a Google Voice account. The homeless individual had recently attained freelance work. Although he did not have a permanent phone number, it was essential that he secure a client contact number. The young man was extremely grateful because Google Voice enabled him to pursue permanent employment.
After encountering this post, I considered additional opportunities when libraries could utilize Google Voice. According to the Google support page, “Google Voice gives you one number for all of your phones — a phone number that is tied to you, not to a device or a location. Make and pick up calls, send and get texts, and read and listen to voicemails on your phone, tablet, or computer.” (Google Voice, n.d., para. 1). Google Voice can be used to send text messages from a computer, read transcriptions of voice mails, screen calls, and direct calls to any phone. Research on best practices helps librarians understand how to best utilize Google Voice in a library setting. Knowledge obtained from this assignment will afford me the opportunity to suggest to the library where I am employed, how to incorporate Google Voice into services they presently offer.
There are several ways in which Google Voice can be applicable to libraries. Google Voice can be utilized to implement a SMS/Text reference service. Patrons can text reference questions to the library and librarians can respond without sharing personal numbers. American Libraries Magazine states, “Simply enter the recipient’s phone number (which must be able to receive text messages as most all cellphones can), type your message, and click “send.” You can use the service to reply by text message to a voicemail, call, or text. Patrons can respond to your text from their phone, and you can respond from your Google Voice account and browser.” (Kroski, 2013, para. 21) Secondly, Google Voice can be utilized to send patron notifications, such as the availability of books placed on hold. However, there is no way to schedule text messages. Each message must be sent manually and individually. This feature presents an inconvenience for larger libraries but is extremely useful for the smaller library.