Dutch Public Libraries Offer Chat Reference

Rob Coers writes:

I am happy to announce to you that the Dutch public libraries now also offer a chat reference service to the audiences. Not via IM, but via an application by a small Dutch company, called Chatfone. Behind the scenes there is a team of about 30 librarians who also work as al@din searchers, the nation-wide QnA service, running on OCLC’s QuestionPoint.

In the last months of 2006, 22 public libraries tested several ways of chat reference. We tried:

1. Meebo
2. the big IM’s – MSN, GTalk, Yahoo, monitored with Meebo
3. QuestionPoint Chat
4. Chatfone

Chatfone has been appreciated most by the librarians. It also offers ways to keep statistics and other services like e-mail transcript and user surveys. The report of this project (in Dutch) can be downloaded from : http://www.robcoers.nl/downloads/im-in-al-din/3.html

Unfortunately we dont have enough staff to be available 24/7 , but during the week people can ask questions monday-friday from 09-17 hrs and tuesday and friday also from 18-20.
Besides these hours, occasionaly logged in librarians can be caught in the wild, on weird hours ;-)

When no librarian is available for the servie, the button redirects to the traditional al@din service. Otherwise you see a “Chat met al@din” button.

Well done Dutch Librarians! Thanks for writing Rob.

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