“Combining IM and Vendor-based Chat: A Report from the Frontlines of an Integrated Service.”

Kathleen from University of Illinois at Urbana-Chamapaign left a comment about a paper she recently published. I like the UIUC doesn’t see IM and web-based chat as an either/or proposition and look forward to reading the paper.

The UIUC (Univ. Illinois @ Urbana-Chamapaign) Library has been operating IM reference alongside its chat service since Feb 2005. The Undergraduate and Main Reference libraries assisted over 900 IM users in Oct. 2006. It has been phenomenal, in many good ways and one or two stressful ways. (More staff, please?)

We’ve recently published a paper which provides details on the “other, larger audience” that Aaron mentions as well as the characterisitics of the other, smaller, population which still prefers chat over IM.

Ward, David and Kern, M. Kathleen. “Combining IM and Vendor-based Chat: A Report from the Frontlines of an Integrated Service.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 6.4 (2006) 417-429. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/portal_libraries_and_the_academy/v006/6.4ward.html (If you have a subscription at your library.)[emphasis mine].

I wonder how many people they helped through web-based chat. With those figures, I’d like to take the cost of implementing IM, and the cost of buying web-based chat software and take a look at the ROI. Maybe I should read the article! Kathleen?

One thought on ““Combining IM and Vendor-based Chat: A Report from the Frontlines of an Integrated Service.””

  1. The article will answer some of your questions. Although we didn’t tell the cost of the software. (~2000/yr) .

    ROI in strict dollars is not as high. For instance we helped 222 patrons through chat in October. But the article gives our reasons for continuing, at least for now, with chat. For one, it really is a different audience for us.

    ROI perhaps different for us than for many other libraries becasue we staff VR from the public service desks. It is staff that would be at the desk anyway, as we did not add any staff when we started the service, just shuffled around when they worked to cover peak times better. (Although we need to add some staff now.)

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