IM in the LIBS

November 21, 2006

Hey all;

 first, a couple of admin issues:

1) has anyone else been having huge problems with admin’ing their wordpress blog since say, 2 months ago? whenever i try to create a new post, it is VERY slow… and often times, when i am done a post, and click PUBLISH (thats right, not SAVE, but PUBLISH) it just SAVES the post and doesn’t actually post it! at any rate… i just hope that i am not alone 😀

2)”IM” to me seems like an american term… i don’t hear anyone my age (or younger) use the term IM… i think it is one of those words cooked up by older people trying to be ‘hip’… like when your friends would come over and visit you at your parent’s house when you were younger, and your parents, when chatting with your friends, would use the words “HIP” or “Groovy” and sound completely archaic. for this reason, i will use the term Message and/or messaging when i am refering to IM and IM’ing. THis is the term i have always used, and the term i hear the ‘kids’ use at work :D.

i would like to talk about the use of Messaging within the library used as a tool for virtual reference.

 at the university of guelph, we use a pay-for commercial virtual reference solution called “DOCUTEK”, which, as far as i understand from the workers who use it, is less than perfect. this service permits patrons to email questions in, and to request ‘live chat’ with an individual working the reference desk. A key feature of docutek is the ability to ‘cobrowse’ with patrons (Cobrowsing definition: Synchronizing browser access to the same sites. As one user browses the Web, the other users trail along automatically and link to and view the same pages from their browsers). the need for this feature becomes of greater importance as an increasing number of a library’s services migrate to the online realm. In discussions with the staff members who work on virtual reference with the docutek service, apparently this ‘cobrowsing’ feature typically does not work. It seems that at the University of Guelph we experience the same strict system requirement issues as outlined in the Aaron Schmidt article which leads to the incorrect functioning of this co-browsing feature.

 A few years ago (before my time at the McLaughlin Library), Virtual reference assistance via msn chat was added as a method of receiving reference help. MSN was chosen because of the sheer number of MSN users in our environment: it seems MSN Messenger is used more often in canada, and AOL Instant Messenger is used more often in the US.

 this new service offering, from what i understand from those staff members working Virtual Reference, has been quite popular. However, only the chat feature was being used, and  co-browsing was not offered. what we didn’t realize was that MSN actually has the capacity to allow for co-browsing as well.

 when WIndows Live Messenger (the newest version of MSN messenger) was released in the summer of 2006, co-browsing became available. I put together an instructional presentation for all of the library staff about ‘advanced use of MSN messenger’ and had over 50 staff members in 3 showings! in this presentation, i demonstrated how to use cobrowsing within MSN, as well as some other ‘advanced’ msn features, such as file sharing and remote assistance. This offering seemed quite well received, and with the cobrowsing feature available within Windows Live Messenger, there is the possibility to provide reliable online assistance and cobrowsing to our patrons via the platform they are most familiar with.

please see the informational sheet ( MSN file sharing ) that i used for the staff training:


5 Responses to “IM in the LIBS”

  1. Karen K said

    I’ve been having the same problem with WordPress! Glad to hear I’m not alone. Did you attach the information sheet you mentioned in the last line? I can’t seem to locate it…

  2. hjbennett said

    Yep, WordPress saved my post saying ‘it’s my week off’ rather than publishing it last week… and I didn’t catch it until this Sat. So much for letting people know.

  3. Colleen said

    While some of the technological “issues” do sound frustrating, I was intrigued by the need for students (or other users) to email and request a live chat session. I was wondering if this may function as a bit of a deterrent. From a staff perspective I would think this method is preferred, as it would allow one to step away from the computer more easily. Mouse vs. ball and chain.

  4. Lauralee said

    Yup, WordPress has been painfully. slow. for about that long – I don’t remember noticing it when I signed up for a WP blog in September, so I presume it was okay then. The save vs publish thing is why I always, always check to make sure my blog got posted. Annoying. Somehow I think I will not be signing up with WordPress again in future (I’m sure they’ll get their problems sorted out, but – ! it’s taking far too long.)

  5. amanda said

    Sorry to hear about all the WordPress trouble! Hopefully they will work on sorting those issues out.

    You’re right about the term “IM”, Randy. It’s definitely something that’s popular south-of-the-border and I think it stems from the fact that AOL is the most popular messaging service in the US (“AIM”, hence “IM”), whereas MSN has the market cornered in Canada. I hear our students say “MSN me” or “message me” most often, I don’t think I’ve ever hear them say “IM me”! Which is important to keep in mind when naming a new IM service in the library!

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