bring it on

A youth services librarian in New Jersey left a comment a few posts back about a some IM issues. The administration in her library disallowed IM in her department for fear of viruses creeping onto the machines. All the while, the libary’s significant immigrant population had been talking to people back in the old country for free! Awesome use of IM. She would like IM restored so that they can make use of this technology, and for many other reasons, I’m sure.

Taking away IM was probably a knee jerk reaction by the admin. IM is new in many people’s personal and professional lives, so it seems dangerous. Sure there are a few little spyware bugs going around AIM, but nothing that an Internet terminal doesn’t see on a daily basis whilst it is used to surfed the web. With proper security, antivirus software and possibly ghosting software, the machines would fare just fine.

As for convincing the higher-ups to bring IM back, I can think of a few things to do. Tell them how you have found it valuable as a professional tool. Start using it with anybody that’s willing to try in your library. If you’re in the position to do so, have a staff training day about IM, and get them familiar with it. Mention that it is the future, and it needs to be in the library if it is to remain relevant to your younger users. Put out an informal survey and see if there is a groundswell of demand for IM. They should, after all, listen to the patrons. Or be reading their IMs.

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