It seems like we’re finally getting to the really interesting part of using a new technology: people are starting to talk. I’ve been scanning the journals for recent discussion on IM reference and I found a couple of articles. I am going to share these with my colleagues when we meet today to play with Trillian and discuss how we will promote IM at my library. I read Aaron Schmidt & Michael Stephen’s “IM Me” article in the 1 April InfoTech section of Library Journal. Schmidt & Stephens ponder the practical uses of IM in libraries and profile a few libraries that have been early adopters (including their own). There is a list of best practices and links to the libraries profiled at the end of the article. It was interesting to see the different approaches. I suspect this list of libraries is not all inclusive. Brown has been using IM chat (the only member of my consortium currently doing so) for about a year. They seem to be pretty pleased with the initial response: almost 400 chat sessions over a 10 month period and more than half of them were reference questions (looking for info on x, specific title searches in the OPAC, queries from off-campus) Here’s a bit more on Brown’s BULChat. Funny handle, especially if apply the 5 times fast rule.
I also read an opinion piece on page 30 of the April issue of American Libraries. In “Eeewww! My Patron Tried to Pick Me Up”, Susan Braxton, a science reference librarian at Illinois State’s Milner Library, recounts a session of recreational chatting (the what-are-you-wearing variety) initiated by a patron. Braxton also discusses how to prepare for this inevitable type of conversation as you dabble in IM.
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