May 9, 2006
More Meebo features :: chat logs
From the meeblog:
". . . if you have a meebo account, you’ll have the ability to keep your conversations saved (or not saved, if you so choose) for future access. Also included in this release is a brand new preferences framework where you’ll be able to turn on/off chat logging, control when you see emoticons, and choose when you receive sound notifications."
Posted at 1:28 PM| Permalink
February 21, 2006
Meebo adds new features
Remember Meebo? Well, a great web-based IM tool has just gotten even better. Kind of like a Trillian for the web, Meebo previously allowed you to sign into multiple IM accounts simultaneously, but now boasts single sign on. By creating a free Meebo account, you can associate all of your IM accounts with it and sign in with just one username and password. Sweet! Supported IM clients include AIM, ICQ, Yahoo!, Jabber or GTalk and MSN. I'm also happy to see that it is still ad-free.
Another nice bonus is that you can set accounts to connect automatically on launch or remain invisible. Meebo will also save old (session-specific) chat dialogue, so if you close a chat window and open it again without quitting the program, you can see the chat you had 20 minutes ago, for example. I've been using it for the past couple of days, and its running very smoothly. I had problems in the past with unpredictable and completely random disconnects, but that doesn't seem to be happening anymore. This is a great little app!
Posted at 2:17 PM| Permalink
December 10, 2005
Skype ups the ante
Skype announced an important new addition to its IM/VOIP client a couple of weeks ago: free video calling. In order to take advantage of the cool new features, an upgrade to Sykpe 2.0 beta is required, which is currently only available for windows. Bah! And for the low low price of £1.50, you can also purchase a WeeMee: "a character that represents you." Whoopee! Since I can't use the Personalize Skype services with Mac OS, and refuse to pay for a spiffy avatar even if I could use it, I built and took a screenshot of my WeeMee:
But Mac users need not despair! You too can upgrade to a new 1.4 beta version that allows you to display your 'moods' in addition to a few other minor features:
"The new version contains some new functions, like Call forwarding, Mood messages and now iTunes pause automatically when you receive a call on Skype. There are also loads of tweaks like new sounds, new sign-in screen and some other UI updates. Hope you like it. No video yet for Mac OS X, but we’re working on it. [link]
Here's hoping that I'll have a reason to dust off the iSight sometime soon!
Posted at 9:21 PM| Permalink
November 16, 2005
AIM launches IM Robots
This is interesting . . . when I logged in this morning, I was immediately (and perhaps prematurely) annoyed to find that 2 bots had been added to my contact list by AIM:
It seems that they've launched IM Robots today, which are "24/7 Buddies Always Online to Have Fun With You." I was sceptical (maybe it's the whole bots thing?) but tried the shopping one. After an initial message is sent to the robot (any character will suffice), it brings back a welcome screen:
After typing the 'menu' command I get the following:
After selecting a few more options and selecting holiday favourites, I end up with:
You get the idea . . . It's kinda like the telemenu voice prompting system that you hear when you call your cable or telephone company. This could be a really cool self-serve information service for libraries, if we could make our own bots, that is. The 24/7 model for online or virtual reference service is not feasible for many (most?) libraries. Something like an IM librarybot could supplement and help fill the gap when we're either offline or the person doesn't need to actually chat with us for quick access to information like hours, etc. Oh, and not to mention the benefits for mobile users.
Posted at 9:21 AM| Permalink
November 9, 2005
University of Michigan Library launches pilot IM service
Posted at 11:51 PM| Permalink
October 13, 2005
I watched a fun and inspiring video on the FISH! Philosophy in a meeting yesterday, and one of the four principles, 'Be There,' reminded me in a very tangential way of the whole online presence issue . . . and I thought I'd check and see where things are with IM presence. Aaron blogged about AIM presence a few days ago, and it looks like Yahoo! also has a way to add presence (or have they for a while and I just didn't know about it?). There still isn't anything from MSN, and for that you will need to rely on a third-party presence indicator such as those available from Online Status Indicator which, for MSN, is always a bit touch-and-go. I'm sure this will change with MSNs recently announced merger with Yahoo! Messenger.
Skype recently released some new buttons that work with the Mac OS version, but they don't broadcast presence and I'm not all that interested. I'm using Skype less and less these days because it just isn't working properly on my mac. However if you do use Skype, there is a handy dandy how-to on adding a Skype Me Button to your signature file in Mac Mail. I believe that the only presence indicator currently available for Skype is the Jyve Web Plugin which is available for WinXP/2000 only, so I haven't been using it since moving to Mac OS at work courtesy of the shiney new iBook : )
Oh, and if you havn't seen the FISH! video, you should check it out!
Posted at 12:08 PM| Permalink
Yahoo! and MSN to create world's largest IM network
Since we're on the topic of mergers today (!), Yahoo! and MSN are joining forces to create what may become the world's largest IM network. AOL, the other IM heavyweight, has not been included in the IM interoperability effort, likely because Yahoo! and MSN plan to go toe-to-toe with AIM. I'll be running my IM survey here at FIS in the very near future, because I suspect that while AIM usage may be very high in the US, it isn't elsewhere (i.e. Canada).
Focus on VOIP will be an integral part of the merger (and restricted to PC-PC connections only - HUH!?). This will no doubt be received with much fanfare from users who currently have to coax their buddies into using one service/software or another in order to 'talk' to them if they aren't already on the same network.
While this may be exciting news (or not!) for IM, especially with the enhancements to security and presence using SIP/SIMPLE, I hope that third party software apps like Trillian and Adium X don't get shut out of the IM arena.
Posted at 10:47 AM| Permalink
September 15, 2005
Web based IMing with Meebo
Meebo is an ajax and web-based IM client. It integrates accounts from AIM, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, and ICQ into a single buddy list. So think of it as Trillian or Adium for the web. It's still in alpha, so be aware that things may change (and hopefully improve!) over time. Kinda like eMessenger, but much better (for one thing, no advertising). Applications like Meebo are a great way for users to connect to IM services at libraries, for examples, when they are in labs or other settings that don't allow access to installed IM clients.
There is a blog if you'd like to keep up on all the latest and greatest developments. I sure will be.
Hello Web 2.0 : )
Posted at 1:51 PM| Permalink
September 12, 2005
eBay buys Skype for $1.3 billion
It's been confirmed that eBay is buying Skype for $1.3 billion, with further payouts totalling about 4.1 billion when all is said and done. The move aims ease and strengthen contact between buyers and sellers using eBay services. So there are the obvious benefits on the ecommerce front, but I wonder what will this will bring for those who use Skype for educational and personal use. It's still unclear at this point . . .
I couldn't find announcements either at eBay or Skype, however this article provides the text of a release that supposedly appeared on the eBay site this morning.
Posted at 12:09 PM| Permalink
August 25, 2005
How do you track your IM stats?
A number of people have asked for more details about how we record and manage stats for the IM service here at UNLV. I made a quick Captivate tutorial to show what we have in place, given that it's not publicly accessible.
So what are other people out there using to track IM statistics?
Chat Stats Tutorial | swf | 1.4 mb | 01:57
Posted at 9:43 AM| Permalink
August 23, 2005
Google Talk (beta) has landed . . .
Mac users are s-o-l as far as the Google Talk client goes: it's windows-only. However, because Google Talk is running on the Jabber protocol, there are a number of other readily available IM clients that mac users can use (login requires a GMail address and password). Also, if you're not running Tiger OS, you can forget about using iChat. I'm using Adium X and logged in without any difficulty. tuaw.com has already posted a how-to for mac users.
I haven't had the opportunity to chat with anyone yet, so no early impressions to report.
Posted at 8:34 PM| Permalink
Google getting ready to chat?
Bring on the jibber jabber . . . rumour has it that Google is getting ready to launch its own IM service tomorrow (Wednesday) using the opensource Jabber protocol (the purported 'Linux' of instant messaging). Here's a screenshot of an attempted connection on Jabber:
If Google does in fact launch a service using Jabber (currently called 'Google Talk'), then it will be easy for libraries offering IM chat services to integrate it into their current offering. Trillian (pro version only) and Adium X already come packaged with Jabber plugins. GoogleRumors is keeping track of the developments.
Posted at 9:06 AM| Permalink
August 6, 2005
Digital Library Services for Millennials
I was asked to give a presentation on digital services for millennials for a job interview a couple of weeks ago. 'Millennials' are the buzzword group du jour in business, marketing and library circles. And for good reason: they're the largest population group since the baby boomers, and they have vastly different expectations for both library and digital services, in general. For your powerpoint viewing pleasure:
Providing Digital Library Services to Millennials (ppt | 3.81 MB)
Posted at 12:23 PM| Permalink
August 5, 2005
A first glance at IM usage
I've quickly compiled the chat stats for our first two months of service (June and July). Traffic has been steady despite the fact that it is summer, and we're working with limited hours (a total of 4 hours per day). Compared to our stats for this time last year using QuestionPoint, I would say that things are looking pretty great for the busy fall semester. It will also prove to be a much better indicator of typical usage.
We've had a total of 70+ IM chats since the launch on June 6. In June, we had a total of 30 IM chats initiated by students (57%), the general public (40%) and some 'unknowns' (3%). Most of the questions (30%) were of the 'ready reference' (in how we define it here) variety: people looking for information about library hours, location of items in the book stacks, how to pay fines, internet access within the building, etc. Approximately 13% of IMers were looking for research assistance, while 10% asked for help locating a full text item. We have an option for 'Other' which I suspect may have been used a little more liberally in the first month while we were getting our feet wet, and accounts for 47% of questions asked. I'm pretty certain that this number is artificially high, and came down quite significantly in July.
We answered 32 IM chat questions in July. Students accounted for 59% of that traffic, while the public dropped down to 19%, followed by 'unknown' (16%) and faculty (6%). July also saw a significant increase in research-related questions (34%), followed by ready reference (25%), locating full text (16%), 'other' (16%) and finally remote access assistance (9%).
These numbers certainly aren't robust enough to extrapolate from or even predict how things will pick up in September, but do serve to give us an initial first look at who our users are and generally the types of questions that they're asking. However, with the same hours of service offered last year, this certainly is a vast improvement over the 7 questions answered in June and 14 questions in July 2004. We've had some really wonderful feedback about the service from our users, and appreciation for offering it as an option for getting help from the library.
Posted at 9:13 AM| Permalink
July 21, 2005
Presence for everyone!
I've been following the thread on presence on Skype Journal for the past few days, and it looks like Jyve has come back (see my earlier experiences with Jyve here and here) with a new and improved Skype presence app complete with new Jyve tags. Unfortunately, it is only available for Windows at the moment. There are some handy instructions to get you started.
Posted at 4:03 PM| Permalink
July 13, 2005
Does Your Library IM?
Posted at 11:13 AM| Permalink
July 12, 2005
IM & Email Reference Staff Training with Captivate Tutorials
Paul had asked a while back if I could share the Captivate tutorials that I put together for staff training, so here they are. They served to get staff up-to-speed on some of the basic and initial setup procedures before we met for some f2f training. Basically, it saved me a whole lot of time running from office to office setting up email proxies and Trillian : ) The staff were quite receptive to using the tutorials to get themselves set up on their own.
These tutorials are highly specific to our setup here at UNLV (i.e. Lotus Notes for email, etc). However if you're interested in what's involved for creating a home-grown IM/email reference setup at your library, these humble little tutorials may provide some insight.
The tutorials may seem a bit choppy because I created them back in May when we first got Captivate, and these are my first and not especially glamorous attempt (I had previously been using ViewletBuilder). At the time I had also used real reference email transcripts and provided all of our passwords for the IM accounts, so I had to record some new slides and consequently the cursor movements are a little disjointed.
Tutorial 1: Setting up a proxy to the library reference email account
swf | 682 kb | 00:01:39
Tutorial 2: Managing email with the library reference account
swf | 1496 kb | 00:03:20
Tutorial 3: Installing and setting up Trillian
swf | 2440 kb | 00:03:30
f2f Staff Training: IM Basics | ppt
This ppt doesn't make a whole lot of sense on its own, but was used during our hands-on training to get staff up-to-speed on the basics of IM, the logging in procedures, and some very basic points about chatetiquette and the 'culture' of chat.
Posted at 12:35 PM| Permalink
June 13, 2005
IM goes live at UNLV Librarires
The UNLV Libraries IM service went live on Monday June 6 (adios, QuestionPoint!) This happened to coincide with a minor website launch, so in the process of making the switch to IM, I reorganized and completely rewrote the Ask a Librarian section of the site. As you can see, I gathered inspiration from some of the other libraries out there using IM. due to the website launch deadline, I wasn't able to get all the content up there, but it's coming along.
The e-mail solution
Because email was previously handled by QuestionPoint, we needed a new way to receive and route email reference questions to the 12-15 library staff that regularly respond to email questions. I created a web form that sends mail to a library reference Lotus Notes account, and set librarians up with proxy access via their personal Lotus email accounts. I created a 'librarians' folder where I move questions for specific librarians and notify them with an email that there is a question in their folder. Once the question is answered, the librarian moves it to the appropriate monthly archive folder. So far so good. It's a little more time intensive, but hey, it works.
The IM software solution
We're supporting AIM (and therefore also iChat), Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger, and these choices were informed by the earlier IM Survey. The librarian chatters (there are about 12 of us) have been set up with Trillian. Getting everyone set up took some time: Trillian installs local user preferences and required that I visit everyone individually. I used our brand spankin' new copy of Macromedia Captivate to deploy three tutorials to staff to get them at least partially set up before I came to their offices (the Captivate tutorials were a big hit!). Our screen name is unlvlibrarian.
The tricky part had to do with the 'hand-off.' Our chat shifts run on an hourly basis. Because we're all using the same three unlvlibrarian accounts, logging in while a librarian from the previous shift is still in the middle of a chat will boot them out. Not so good. so I created AIM accounts for all the chatters (unlvsherri, unlvpriscilla, etc . .) so that we could use this as a secondary network to communicate with one another. So before logging into the unlvlibrarian account, we use our individual accounts to IM the unlvlibrarian and make sure it's okay to take over. It's also good way for people new to IM to chat with one another and get into the groove.
Though we're now supporting IM, IM software will not be made available to library computer users. The systems side of the house has decided that there are too many potential security risks involved. As I see it, this is simply an inconvenience factor for students because no matter when I talk a walk out by the workstations, people have downloaded and are running IM clients to chat with their friends. So it's being installed anyway, though Deep Freeze erases it after every restart. In the meantime, I've provided users with web login links on the chat page so that they have the option if they find themselves in a lab where they can't install software.
Finally, I've added links to the Ask a Librarian service to the various databases that support customized linking. Presence presence presence!
The statistics-keeping solution
One thing about this switch that did concern me was the (in)ability to track and keep statistics, which had previously been collected automatically by QuestionPoint. One the one hand, I really like the fact that chat is 'disposable' and that we can dispose of transcripts and personally-identifiable information when and how we want to (not an option with QuestionPoint). On the other, I need to capture some basic statistics, and trying to gather that information from numerous people would have the potential to redefine my job description! Finally, the solution needed to be easy and obvious, because we're all busy people and don't need more added to our plates than we already have. So . . . we've developed a data entry page using PHP to feed basic statistical information into a MySQL database. At the start of each chat shift, the librarian simply has to go to the URL and use the drop-downs provided (a comment box is also provided near the end of the page that's not visible in the screenshot):
The initial training session focused specifically on setting up and using Trillian, and some basics of chatiquette. Once everyone has had the opportunity to start chatting, we'll be having an additional advanced training session later in the summer. For more information on IM training, take a look at the great stuff that Michael Stephens has done.
On our first full day of service, I had three chats in a two hour time span. Two of the students that I was chatting with each said something along the lines of "thanks so much for offering this service - it's so great that you're using IM at the library!"
Like Linda Richman I was all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves : )
Posted at 6:30 AM| Permalink
June 5, 2005
IMing a hit . . . from Athens to Vegas
Chad Boeninger at the Ohio University Libraries has completed an IM survey and posted the results on his blog, Library Voice. Here's the neat part: Chad used the same questions that I did (in addition to questions about podcasting and other portable devices) for the UNLV survey, and the results pretty much mirror each other. As Chad says "one can definitely see the need for IM reference, and the need is the same in Ohio or Nevada or wherever."
In related news, IMing is going live at UNLV Libraries tomorrow (Monday). We've moved quickly on this partly because access to our commercial VR system ended on Thursday and we don't want to have a lapse in service. We're using Trillian to monitor three different IM accounts. Once I've had time to catch my breath, I'll post more about the set-up and how we're doing with it here at UNLV.
Posted at 2:03 PM| Permalink
May 18, 2005
Yahoo! makes its move on the Skype market
Free worldwide calls.
Sound familiar? Yahoo! is making a clear segue into VOIP territory with a new Skype-like beta version of Yahoo! Messenger. Well, kind of. This is not true VOIP but VOIM, meaning that calls are limited to PC to PC only. There is no equivalent to SkypeOut, for example, which allows you to call land line phone numbers.
Posted at 9:26 AM| Permalink
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.
Posted at 11:17 AM| Permalink
April 22, 2005
IM'ers not digital reference chatters? [Part 2]
Wow - response to the humble little IM survey has been unexpectedly overwhelming! It's been up for just under a week, and so far 170 people have responded. After being up for just under 2 days, we were nearing the 100 maximum that you get with SurveyMonkey's basic (free) account. We upgraded just in the nick of time in order to continue collecting responses - we were at 99! I'll probably keep it up through the weekend and take it down on Sunday, at which point I'll share the final results. However, the way it's looking right now, Sarah Houghton's predictions are dead on.
Some of what I find most interesting about this are the open-ended comments that students have been leaving. Here's a sample:
"Being able to instant message a librarian is just as helpful as calling or e-mailing. I would not do any of these unless I was not able to come in person to ask for help."
"IM services would be fantastic since you can ask questions from anywhere in the building or at home."
" I think this would be a good idea. Most kids are inseparable from IM."
"PLEASE do NOT make instant messaging available in the library. I know students will sit at the computer for HOURS talking to their online "pals" while other students (who actually NEED the computers to do their homework) won't be able to find a computer. I am certain that students will abuse the privelege and IM'ing will be a worse plague than "party poker" in our computer labs . . . "
"I'd imagine it's difficult to convey what you need help with in a library without talking face to face."
"I believe it would be a brilliant idea to offer library assistance through instant messaging, as I have found online counseling through instant messaging also very useful. Eventually, I believe, all university services should in one way or another be expanded to the internet. Another reason it would greatly benefit UNLV is that many students must commute to school from long distances . . . Any services offered online I greatly appreciate."
"That's a great idea! R&I IM!"
"I did not know that a person could chat with a librarian online . . ."
"An instant messegain service would be great because I usually do my research from home on the computer, so if I have a question, it would really be helpful to be able to speak to someone instantly."
"Kudos to linking to the Instant Messaging deifition in the Wikipedia from the Library's website. It's nice to know that UNLV's librarians are up-to-date on things such as the Wikipedia. The idea of Instant Messaging for help sounds wonderful. If it isn't a nuisance and is setup that a librarian at the help desk runs AIM in the background as she/he helps in-person patrons and then additionally helps online patrons, this could become a successful way to reach and help students."
Interesting stuff! More to come . . .
Posted at 9:43 AM| Permalink
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.
Posted at 9:28 AM| Permalink
March 29, 2005
I heart Trillian
I've spent time in the last week looking at how to implement IM as our new chat reference service, and Trillian was one of the first things I downloaded. I poo-poo'd Trillian in the early days, and I can't remember exactly why. But this latest release is rich and fully featured, and with a much improved interface to boot. I was a little concerned about how to keep logs and statistics if using IM, but Trillian has some great options for creating logs using the Activity History.
But here's the rub: there's nothing available for Mac. This is not a problem for here at work because we're fully windows-ized. Why not sign the Port Trillian to Mac OS X petition? I'm using Adium X at home on my Mac, and it's been pretty good so far. The only thing that is really buggy is file transfer, and for that, I usually end up opening iChat (but I think this is currently on the bug list, so there may be a fix soon). Unlike Trillian, it doesn't support video or audio, so I have to switch to iChat if I want to fire up the iSight.
Now the only other thing that would make my Trillian dreams come true is plugin support for Skype . . .
Posted at 8:33 AM| Permalink
March 22, 2005
Can IM solve my digital reference woes?
I was intrigued by Aaron Schmidt and Michael Stephen's CIL presentation about instant messaging in libraries: Collaboration & IM: Breaking Down Boundaries. I've been thinking about this for a while, and specifically, the viability of ditching the "bloated VR system" for a much simpler and functional solution. The merits of using IM versus VR have been widely and even hotly debated on listserv such as Web4Lib and dig_ref.
So here are some of the pros and cons (for our particular situation), and my general questions . . .
- it's saves several thousands of dollars a year – it's free!
- it works – bonus!
- no messy setup or clunky interfaces; uses a medium that many/most students are already familiar with
- ability to create customized 'queues' per subject or librarian for things like subject pages (simply create an appropriate and different screen name for that purpose), which with VR software can cost around $3000 per librarian
- it's 'disposable': one thing that really bothers me about our current system is that all questions and transcripts are kept for three months, and in terms of privacy issues, we have no control over that
- much more challenging to keep statistics
- lose the ability to refer and track email questions (a component of our VR software) among numerous subject librarians
As I see it, the cons are easily overcome with some fairly straight-forward workarounds, but I'm interested in hearing how others using IM in libraries have tackled these issues. Any thoughts out there?
I want to respond to Paul's comment here in the post because I haven't enabled comments in my feeds yet (note to self: get on that), and he brings up a good point: "but another thing acting as a con on the IM list is the inability to co-browse." I'm once bitten, twice shy when it comes to co-browsing, and I didn't list it as a con for our particular situation because we're not currently using it.
Theoretically, it's a great idea, and when it works, it's a fabulous teaching tool. But in practical terms, I've had very limited success using it within mainstream VR software applications. I've been keeping my eye on Jybe and have had various levels of success using it as well, though it looks very promising especially if they continue to work out some of the kinks (see Paul's post for more details). This has primarily been because of bandwith issues (on either end - sometimes hard to tell where the problem is), general incompatibilities, and so forth. I want something that's simple and effective, and until I stumble across something that is just that, I'm content to type a little more : )
I heard rumblings a while back that someone might be working on a co-browse feature for Rakim, a great open source VR chat application that I've used very successfully in the past (for a real-live example, see the University of Winnipeg Library's Live Help). Oh and some intrepid library folk worked on Rakoon, a co-browser for RAKIM, at the 2004 Hackfest. Peter Binkley and Kenton Good were part of that group (I'm convinced there's something in the water in Alberta ; ), but I'm not sure if anyone is continuing work on the project. Anyone? Anyone?
Bringing all these great things together in some integrated way will be key for drumming up interest and generating buy-in amongst staff. Then we're cookin' with gas . . .
Posted at 12:27 PM| Permalink
January 16, 2005
LJ Article: Virtual Reference: Alive & Well
In her article, Virtual Reference: Alive & Well, Brenda Bailey-Hainer takes on some of the more negative press that virtual reference has been getting in the past months and highlights success stories such as AskColorado. Though much of the focus is on state/public library initiatives, there are some good points made regarding marketing, in particular.
Posted at 10:23 PM| Permalink