May 5, 2005
IM'ers not digital reference chatters? [Part 3]
The IM Survey wrapped up about a week and a half ago, and I'll now take the opportunity to report on the final results now that I'm back from my trip to Toronto and the wonderful wineries of the Niagara Peninsula. Ahhh . . . I digress : )
A total of 195 responses were collected over 7 days (April 15- 22). The link to the survey was featured fairly prominently under the 'News' section of the Library's main page, as well as on the existing chat reference entry page.
Questions & Responses:
1) Do you currently use Instant Messaging software? Examples may include: MSN Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Instant Messenger, ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger, iChat.
91.8% (c=179) of respondents indicated that they currently use some form of instant messaging, while 8.2% (c=16) indicated that they don't use IM. It was anticipated that a large percentage of respondents would be IM users due to the self-selected nature of the survey and their increased awareness of the service. I included a link to the Wikipedia entry for IM in case someone wanted to verify or learn more.
2) If you currently use Instant Messaging, please indicate which service(s) you use (select as many as apply)
The top three IMs of choice by far are AIM (79.9%, c=143), Yahoo! IM (43.6%, c=48) and MSN Messenger (42.5%, c=46). In retrospect, I'm glad that I asked this because I would not have anticipated the high usage of AIM, which is not nearly as widely used in Canada as it apparently is here in the United States. Everything else mentioned, such as Skype and ICQ, etc, was at or below the 5% mark.
3) Have you ever used the UNLV Libraries Chat Reference Service?
And now for the interesting stuff . . . a mere 11.3% (c=21) of respondents reported that they have used the UNLV Libraries chat reference service in the past. That leaves a whopping 88.7% (c=165) of IMers who responded out in the (virtual) cold.
4) If the service were offered, would you use Instant Messaging to ask a librarian for research help?
Next, the topsey turvy effect: 87.5% (c=161) responded that if offered, they *would* use instant messaging to get help from the library, while 12.5% (c=23) indicated that they would not. Almost exactly the same percentage who indicated that they haven't used the existing chat reference service said they would use IM.
5) On a scale of 1-5, please indicate how often you would use the following contact methods to get help from the library: (1 = Never | 2 = Not very often | 3 = Undecided | 4 = Often | 5 = Regularly)
This was an interesting question, and somewhat predictable. There is an obvious preference for the more immediate and instant types of help (f2f and IM). But what surprised me a little was the low ranking for email. We get a lot of email reference questions, but anecdotal evidence would point to heavy use of email and phone reference assistance by our community patrons, and not as much by our students.
6) Do you have any additional comments or suggestions?
Selected open-ended responses are provided in Part 2.
I'm going forward with the IM effort, and expect to roll out by the end of the month. Next up: implementation, staff training, and creation of website documentation to alert users of the change in service.