Friday, June 20, 2008

IM in the library

It's finally Friday and I'm heading to the cape for some restorative camping. But before I go I have some SCSU housekeeping to take care of…

My class has been talking about blogs, wikis, IM, basically all the things that I'm completely immersed in at my job. It's been fun and, of course, educational. We're talking a lot about how these and other web 2.0 applications work, and how and why libraries should use them, but I'd still like to hear some testimonials, if you will, from librarians who are currently using these tools in their libraries. I know here in Duxbury the reference wiki I set up has been a tremendous success. It met our expectations and even had a few bonuses that we were not expecting. I've started to archive previous months reference questions, mainly because I'm a little funny that way (I won't use the "A" word), and also because even though we didn't keep the paper version of the reference questions list I feel like at some point I'll be able to turn this electronic version into another kind of tool for us.

Back to the class…one of our assignments for this week was to get some experience using IM. We used the Meebo IM aggregater, one of the more popular IM tools. I already had a Meebo account set up (dmbgarvin, in case you want to add me to your friends list), thanks to a workshop I attended at SEMLS a few months ago. Lately I've been trying to get a few other staff members on board with the concept in preparation for our launch of IM Reference, hopefully by the start of the schools year.

For anyone who doesn't know what Meebo is, it's basically a single IM account that you set up one time with any and all IM screen names you have. It will allow you to talk with anyone else with a Meebo account, even if you are an AIM person and your friend is a Yahoo person. Great tool, really; it pulls the IM community together and enlarges the circle of communication.

So, the class was supposed to "check in" via IM with Rebecca, the distance education librarian at SCSU and one of the instructors for the class. Then, she wanted us to join the ILL599 chat room she set up on Meebo specifically for the class. I popped in three or four times and every time I was the only one there. Which wasn't really surprising to me, it's a fairly small class and there were no designated hours. I have group chatted before and find it to be a little hard to follow.

Where do I see IM in libraries…..reference definitely, circulation maybe, YA librarians probably, although it could be distracting. IM chat rooms, not really. What I don't like about the rooms are the questions and comments that hang without being answered, or conversation threads that are overlapping numerous other conversation threads. I'm way too linear for that! I think if a bunch of people (I'm thinking young people here) are just "hanging out" it can be fun, but if it's a tool to share information I'd rather see a one on one situation. The name is very fitting – Chat Room – it's a great place to chat, but not to have any kind of serious or meaningful interaction.

So those are my thoughts of the day on instant messaging. Have a wonderful weekend everyone, I'm off to pitch a tent, roll out my sleeping bag, and catch up on some reading!

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