26 July 2006

IM Reference in Smaller Libraries

Are you considering offering reference using IM (instant messaging) but are afraid you don't have time for it? The advice below may help you.

Adding IM presence to your one person reference desk really should not disrupt the flow of the librarian’s work at all. I have yet to hear of any library that was overwhelmed with IM questions. Make it part of your information policy: in person questions first, then phone, then IM, then e-mail (if you do it), then snail mail. If it’s part of information services, there’s nothing wrong with looking up from the screen and saying to the patron” “I am just finishing up with an IM reference question and I’ll be right with you...” (or some such..) IM folk probably wouldn’t mind being asked to hang out as well if you had to help someone real quick as well.

Michael Stephens, Tame The Web: Libraries and Technology blog, 24 July 2006, http://tametheweb.com/2006/07/ttw_mailbox

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