Putting a Face on with IM

Christina has a great post about IM, some recent research and setting expectations here:

http://christinaslibraryrant.blogspot.com/2005/09/more-on-im-at-reference-desk.html

Good stuff:

And I was thinking that besides the fact that we?re afraid we?ll scare the customer away? we still need to properly negotiate the question if we?re going to successfully use this service with people we don?t know. The point is that we?re in an unequal power relationship: we have the info the customer needs (customers aren?t known to appreciate the fact that we need to keep ref stats to justify our existence). What?s preventing the IM reference staff from asking more questions? Is it wanting to be cool? Not enough time (or perception that if they?re not quick enough the customer will run away)? As the customer vanishes into the ether, do we know with IM that we?ve successfully answered their question? (yes there are studies by Kaske, Hernon, and others on VR? but how about IM where stats aren?t uniformly kept, and questions are answered from the desk?not by a dedicated staffer.) Maybe we need to be more careful in setting expectations from IM reference (as some libraries have done)

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