Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Chat or IM for Reference?

Libraries are starting to figure out how to provide library services remotely. Some services we provide well remotely and some services we just provide remotely . . . I've been reading a lot about using instant messaging for reference services. Many libraries already have an "ask a librarian" link on their web page, and others provide more robust services using chat or Voice over IP. Sherri Vokey at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, surveyed UNLV students and found that most of the UNLV students:
  • already use an instant messaging program (91.8%).
  • had not used the chat reference service available from the library (88.7%).
  • would use an instant messaging reference service if it was available (87.5%).
I would agree that saying you would use a service for a survey and actually remembering to use it during the school year maybe two different things, but if even half of the students do use the yet-to-be-implemented IM reference service, that would be more than the number using their existing chat service. Something to think about. Is your constituency ready for IM reference? [from LibrarianInBlack]

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