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Article posted: 6/25/2012 1:17 PM

Need to renew a book? In Tri-Cities, use your phone

Geneva Library reference assistant Christine Dalphy helps a group learn how to use their various e-readers to check out books from the library at Grahamís 318 in earlier this year. The library is now part of a consortium that allows patrons to reserve and renew library items via their cellphone.

Geneva Library reference assistant Christine Dalphy helps a group learn how to use their various e-readers to check out books from the library at Graham's 318 in earlier this year. The library is now part of a consortium that allows patrons to reserve and renew library items via their cellphone.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

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Patrons at the St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia libraries have a new way to reserve and renew library items: Using their phones.

The Library Integrated Network Consortium, or LINC, which contains nine suburban library systems, including those from the Tri-Cities, has launched a service that allows patrons to manage their accounts via text messages on their phones.

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As of last week, 373 people had signed up for the service offered by Shoutbomb, a California firm.

"It brings the library to people's phones and that's what we want," LINC Manager Carol Dawe said. "Everything is working out very, very well. It's a good product and people like it."

Library patrons need a mobile phone, not necessarily a smartphone, and a wireless service that can send text messages to an email address.

A patron texts "signup" to linc@shoutbomb.com and follows the prompts, which will ask for the person's 14-digit library card number. Users also can sign up through their library's website.

Library users can receive notices through the mail or via email and also can renew items and place holds from one's home computer.

"(Shoutbomb) is an optional way to get a message. It's not a replacement (for other media)," Dawe said.

Dawe said that in May, St. Charles Library patrons made 236 holds and 348 renewals through Shoutbomb.

"It looks like patrons who are using it are really using it," she said, noting that parents with small kids can add their children's library cards to the service, too. "It tells you when your holds are available. It tells you right on your phone. It's a very reasonable product,"

Dawe said one aspect that LINC officials like about the service is it doesn't take up too much staff time.

The service began last fall and costs each library just $30 a month, Dawe said. The service also saves people a trip to the library to renew items and also can alert someone on the go if an item on hold is available.

"The feedback has been phenomenal," Dawe said.

LINC also includes libraries in Villa Park, Franklin Park, Glen Ellyn, Bloomingdale, Itasca and West Chicago.

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