April 17, 2005
IM'ers not digital reference chatters?
I put a very simple, 5 question survey together this past Friday to learn about IM habits of UNLV students. It's linked from the main library webpage, as well as from the Chat Reference login page. The questions are very simple, and my main objective was to learn if people are chatting with IM (since it's been debated that people don't IM as much as they used to - an argument that I don't subscribe to) and what applications they're using. I also asked if they've ever used the UNLV Libraries Chat Reference service.
Now it's still very early, and the survey has only been up for 2 days (20 responses so far), but I'm noticing a peculiar trend in the responses: 90% of respondents currently use IM, and 90% have never used the UNLV Chat Reference service. The next question asks "if the service were offered, would you use Instant Messaging to ask a librarian for research help?" Again, 90% responded 'yes.'
Granted, respondents are entirely self-selected, and those with more experience with IM might be more inclined to answer the survey. As well, there hasn't been an aggressive marketing initiave launched to publicize the existing chat reference service (though we have healthy monthly totals). But the numbers reported through the survey are very interesting, and would appear, at this point, to support the 'embedded' service concept: provide help for people where and when they use it most. IM is looking better and better all the time.
The survey hasn't been up for a full weekday yet, so I expect to get many more responses this week. I'll report back as I gather more information.