Going to the user

Librarian In Black has spotted a number of libraries using IM to offer help to users in the library. She links to an example at the University of Alberta and someone from Alberta has left a comment explaining how the service came about and how it fits into some major service changes at the library. This is a very simple idea using something that a number of libraries are already using to communicate with users outside the library – IM reference – to solve a problem inside the library. We ask users not to leave their bags unattended, we warn them about thefts in the library and we set their computers to time out if they leave them for too long, then we expect them to come and queue at an enquiry desk if they need help with their PC. A simple chat box on the screen enabling you to ‘talk to a librarian’ allows you to report faults and ask questions and staff can respond by chatting or by physcially going to the user. I really like this idea but there are some obvious problems it doesn’t help with such as ‘how do I logon’ and ‘how do I use the chat box’?! Has anyone heard of this being used in public libraries or in libraries in the UK?

Answers in a comment box…


2 responses to “Going to the user

  1. It should be a relatively simple thing to implement, at least for the libraries – something like 90 of them – signed up to Enquire.

    “Proper” IM is frowned on by ICT departments in most councils I know of. Enquire lets us do something approximating IM on the sly.

    I think I’ll pinch this idea…

    Nice to have you back, btw.

  2. Thanks! We use Enquire and I think the software would work for this although I’ve only seen it used as part of the project. ICT departments seem to frown on rather a lot of useful things but we’re starting to get a few sites unblocked so who knows for the future…

    Look forward to hearing if you use the idea!

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