Multiple Online Personalities at Lansing PL

Kelli Staley writes about the IM experience at Lansing PL, and shares some cool stuff about how it all works:

How does our staff like this setup?
They like the the separate names. The Teen Dept. librarian said she gets a lot of young adult reader’s advisory inquiries which our Reference desk would be unable to answer. Her IM traffic seems to pick up after she booktalks at the high school. Students will remember parts of what she said, and then inquire about the title.

It also helps to get an idea of the age of the patron right off the bat. Adult Reference said they do get some inquiries that are obviously a middle school or perhaps high school student but most of the reference materials they use for class projects are housed in the adult collection anyway, and IMs are usually a follow-up to a class visit to the library.

I reserved a name for adult readers advisory (our 4th public desk), but as of yet I haven’t been able to get them excited enough to try it!

I love that Booktalks increase IM questions. That type of promotion will build up the service.

I’m sad though that the Adult Reader’s Advisory folks aren’t excited about IM. What might get them into having IM at their desk? Stats might bore them. A mandate from admin would turn them off. Hmm..could some anecdotal evidence — stories if you will — get them to buy in? (This isn’t new — I’m channeling Durrance and Abram here folks!)

We recently had an IM:

[17:46] Patron: Hello
[17:46] Patron: Is anyone here?
[17:47] AskSJCPL: Hi. May we help you?
[17:47] Patron: Are you a robot?
[17:48] AskSJCPL: We are live librarians.

No, not that one, but how about this:

[11:27] IM User: Hello I am a student from (a local college) and i have a question for you about one of your books
[11:28] AskSJCPL: sure, go ahead.
[11:28] IM User: I had looked through a book that my friend had taken out from your library titled (cool book by a cool author)
[11:28] IM User: I would like to use one of his ideas for a project but I do not have the bibliographic information
[11:29] IM User: could you by any chance get that for me, I do not have time to come to the library myself
[11:30] AskSJCPL: Okay. What sort of info do you need?
[11:31] AskSJCPL: Author, date of publication, publisher?
[11:32] AskSJCPL: (Bib info given)
[11:32] AskSJCPL: it’s 64 pages long
[11:34] AskSJCPL: are you still there?
[11:34] IM User: yes
[11:34] IM User: that is perfect
[11:35] IM User: thanks you very much
[11:35] AskSJCPL: you’re welcome, have a nice day!
[11:35] IM User: thanks u too!!

I might make the point that by serving the patron’s need at their point of need via the method that was the best for them at the time, the library is providing some darn good service. I’m curious, readers, what other IM stories might we share? Comment here if you’d like.

Kelli also made a nice comment in response to Jenny’s comment: “I agree with Jenny…the catalog should be the main source for this info, but we all know that many of our patrons are intimidated by the catalog or lack the searching techniques to find what they want. Just as our patrons learn our catalog interfaces, an upgrade can make them feel as if they’re at square one again.
If the IM inquiry about a film, cd or audiobook is what it’s going to take to pull them back into the library (especially if they’ve been gone a while) then we stand a chance at promoting all the other wonderful services & programs they are missing out on! It’s all about getting those independent tech saavy patrons back in the door so we can show them it’s NOT all on the internet!”

I hear you and I agree!