As I was leaving work this afternoon, Rick and I had a short exchange about our recent IM Reference experiences. In the conversation he mentioned how a people tend to send him messages when he signs on.
This is interesting for a two reasons. First, it is more evidence that people have added our screen name to their buddy lists. I’ve mentioned this before, and I mention it when I present about IM but I think the point is worth repeating. Instant messaging has given the library a significant presence in the lives of
many patrons. To these people (many, but not all tweens and teens) the library isn’t (just) a place to get books, but rather more of a living, responsive and dynamic entity that they can call upon when needed.
The second notable thing about people sending messages to us when we sign on is that it might give us an interesting strategy. Through noises or small pop-ups, most IM programs by default alert users when someone on their buddy list signs off as well as signs on. It might prove useful to do just that a few times over an IM shift. Signing off and then on could alert people to the library’s place in their buddy list, and remind them that we’re around. Certainly this shouldn’t be taken to the point where we’re subtly spimming our patrons with this info, but it is an interesting concept nevertheless.