IM

I’ve been on IM for quite a few years now, and University of Alberta is currently offering IM reference in addition to our formal QuestionPoint chat service. So I suppose I was already sitting in the choir waiting to be preached at. But what the heck… it was a good chance to hear what Amanda and the other public library IM folks are up to.

Michael:

- IM Survey results – the gist from what Michael’s gathered off his blog survey is that not enough librarians are doing it (both for professional reasons and for reference purposes). “That’s not hot.” I would have to agree.

Aaron: Im is like having a phone

Aaron gave a good, very grounded perspective on why public libraries ought to get on and get into using IM. Watch out for MySpace [which is launching their own client, in case you hadn’t heard], which is sure to be popular.

Amanda:

- She’s a great presenter (they all are, of course, but I just got to know Amanda through a writing project for CLA that we were both involved in). It was interesting to hear that McMaster hadn’t gone with a licensed chat service before they gave IM a try. The feedback she has gathered, beyond the warm fuzzies, really seems to show that students appreciate the efforts of academic libraries to give IM a try. Some librarians she works with are getting totally into it and even bringing others (like IT staff) in on the conversations (and i do mean literally, as in starting to three way chat when convenient). Web presence indicators indicate that someone is actually there and are good practice to incorporate into your website. [At UofA we have these too, but i do wonder what kind of traffic they would get if these recognizable icons were available within the catalogue, Refworks, or even on the sacred home page).]

The panelists did a good job fielding a question about “getting personal” vs. using a generic name. I tend to agree that rather than thinking of IM as something totally unique and new, think about it as the same as your office phone number. In my workplace, we intentionally have phones and directories and web pages and so forth so that people *can* find us. And yes, they do succeed. The best strategy is to sign up for a work IM and don’t sign onto it when you’re not on the job.] Prioritize IM and queuing as you would any other service response time.

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