Category Archives: IM, Meebo & Chat Reference

SMS to IM Reference

I stumbled upon this page from the American University Library showing their IM reference options, including a MeeboMe widget and a SMS to IM service (I’m sure that I saw it on somebody’s blog, or on some listserv — sorry, I don’t remember where). They have created an SMS to IM service where
users can text a message to a particular number and include the word “askaulibrary” in their message.

Nifty! Is anyone else doing this?

Glad for this link. And isn’t it amazing how IM and SMS Reference keeps popping up, making inroads into our service models?

LIS768: IM Assignment

Dear IM Librarians of the world. If you hear from one of my students in the next few days and you have time, please chat with them! I will really appreciate it!

Topic: IM

“There is much greater opportunity to bring service to wherever potential users of library service happen to be.” Michael Buckland

Readings Due:

Buckland, Chapter 9: The Challenge

Schmidt, A. IM Talking Points

Schmidt, A. & Stephens, M. IM me. Library Journal, Retrieved April 1, 2005 from

Stephens, Embedding a librarian in Your Web Site with Meebo


From the readings and your own reflection, create a short list of interview questions for an IM-ing Librarian. What do you want to know about such a service? For sure, ask about evaluation of the IM service and how the library integrated it into workflow. Create an IM screename or Meebo account to conduct your brief interview.

Then explore

Choose a library and IM the librarian — be courteous. If they can chat about your questions at that time – great! if not ask for a time you might IM with them that’s more convenient.

Post your questions, a brief summary of your interview, and your thoughts on IM in libraries to your blog by October 17. This will count for your weekly posting for the week of October 10. Please email me with any questions.

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 :

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.

IM vs Email

Via SmartMobs, at

The New Scientist Technology Blog: Is IM better for Brainstorming?

The researchers recruited forty two-person teams of graduate business students, and split them into IM and email groups. Each team then had to tackle a business problem facing an auto-repair firm, using only their allocated communication method.

For some reason the paper doesn’t say how long the tests latest. But, on average, the IM teams produced one more idea than those using email. The researchers suggests this may be due to the speed of IM compared to email. Perhaps it also shows that, when it comes to generating ideas, it’s better not to spend to long thinking over your reply, as can happen with email.

New IM Report

Via Stephen Abram:

This post includes facts from a new report from AOL on IM use ( and then Stephen weighs in:

More grist for the library mill. I recall seeing a 1956/57 article in the Wilson Library Bulletin advising libraries not to adopt telephone reference. From my travels this year, we seem to be split on piloting IM reference and resisting it. This seems to be a watershed issue in libraries and our relationship with our users.

Several folks have informed me that their library IM trial yielded poor results. I asked how they marketed and promoted the service. As a rule, they hadn’t done very much promotion at all. Some feared getting too many questions (an odd irony). I know of one library that got amazing results just by getting every staff member to give the special group IM address on a bookmark to every teen who arrived in the library. The word of mouth marketing this generated worked very well. Now that the average IM user is 32, this kind of promotion could be done very effectively by circulation and information commons desks.