SMS Notifications

OPLIN offers a free service that allows libraries to send notification messages directly to patrons' cellphones via standard Short Message Service (SMS) "text messages" instead of sending messages to their email accounts.

NOTE that you can only use this service to send individual messages to individual people. Because there are strict laws regulating the sending of a "blast" message to a group of phones simultaneously, you cannot use the OPLIN SMS service for such messages.

 

Prerequisites:

  • Your existing Integrated Library System (ILS) must be capable of sending notifications to patrons' email addresses.
  • You must inform OPLIN of the IP address of the server (usually your ILS server) that sends your email notifications.

Procedure

To use the service, you should ask a patron if they wish to receive messages by cell phone instead of by email; their normal text messaging charges will apply. (There is no cost to the library.)

If they want cell phone messages, you will enter their email address in your ILS as <cellphone_number>@sms.oplin.org.

Example

If the patron wishes to receive notifications at their cell phone number 614-123-4567, then you would put
6141234567@sms.oplin.org

in the email field of their patron record. Notifications will now be sent to their cell phone rather than to their normal email address.

If you would like notices of errors and patron STOP requests via email, please let us know which email address the messages should go to.

By default nothing is done with patron replies. To change this let us know which email address you would like the replies forwarded to, or provide us with a message you'd rather be texted back to the patron.

The OPLIN SMS system accepts notices 24 hours a day, but only sends text messages between 9 AM and 9 PM. This is to allow libraries to continue sending email notices in the middle of the night, without possibly waking up patrons who keep their phones on the night stand.

Message format

All notifications sent to patrons' cell phones will be limited to 152 characters, which is the maximum length of a single text message, so your standard notification language must include all important information (library name, phone number, etc.) within those 152 characters.

The OPLIN SMS system uses *** as its delimiter to determine what text from your regular email messages will be sent to people's cell phones.

  • If you send an email to the system and no occurrence of *** is found, the system will discard the email.
  • If you send an email with one occurrence of *** the system uses that as the beginning of your 152 character message.
  • If the system finds two or more occurrences of *** it uses whatever you have between the first pair as your text message, taking the first 152 characters of that snippet.
Good examples of notices we've seen:

This is a reminder from the UAPL that 1 item(s) will soon be due. Please return or renew them by their due date. Visit www.ualibrary.org for more information.
You have items ready to pick up at the Lane Libraries.
Your hold is available from the Lakewood Public Library. It will be held for 10 days. Call 216-226-8275 for more information.

The Microsoft SMTP daemon typically uses an encoding for plain text that can cause "=" to appear at the end of lines. The OPLIN SMS system automatically strips those unwanted characters from your message.

The system also strips out any carriage returns or new-line codes that may be embedded in your message, so your message is formatted for optimum cell phone display.

The system automatically handles any base64 encoded email.

Service objectives:

  • Incident Response: OPLIN staff will respond within one hour to malfunctions of sending notifications to cell phones during regular business hours Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding State of Ohio holidays; contact us through the OPLIN Support site.
  • Incident Resolution: OPLIN staff will either resolve the incident within 4 business hours or will open an incident ticket with the messaging vendor(s) and work collaboratively toward resolving the incident within the timeframe specified in the vendor's agreed service objective.

Questions?

Contact OPLIN Support (http://support.oplin.org).