July 2005
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Month July 2005

IM as answering machine or “the not so instant message”

I’ve been cognizant of leaving our library’s screen name on, but set to away status, when we close for the night. The message reads:

Hey, sorry, but we’re closed right now. If you have a question, leave us a message, or send an email to info[@]fordlibrary.org. We’ll be open in the morning at 9:30. Thanks!

In the morning there are generally a few messages from younger patrons saying something like, “its 10:30 what are you still doing at the library!?” and then “oh” when they get the away message sent to then automatically. But there are a number of gems to be found among these other IMs*. Kids are starting to leave questions. Some ask for a reply, some just pose the question, perhaps assuming we’ll get back to them when we can, and a few have left email addresses. While we’re not getting 10 questions per night when the library is closed, or even five, it is still more than the number of emails we get from teens. This is, of course because IM is their preferred method of communication.

Browser-based chat programs default to email when the library is closed, even though the patron wanted to chat. Just like your personal account, leaving the library IM name signed in can extend your library’s presence and availability. All of this speaks to the flexibility of IM.

*It could be argued that any IM of this sort is a gem because it humanizes the library and makes people familiar with it.

libraries that IM

UPDATE: Of course, Library Success is an open wiki and therefore I’m not really needed for the addition of content. I just added in Ohio University – they’re starting a pilot project Tuesday – and saw a bunch more libraries on the list. Hurrah for wikis, less work for me (and everyone).

The LiB and I are doing our part on the LIS wikis that have popped up. Naturally we’ve gravitated towards the IM Reference content. One of the things we’d like to do is come up with a semi-authoritative list of libraries using IM for Reference (or other!) transactions, and what software they’re using.

Here’s the Online Reference portion of Library Success

So if you IM at your library and you’re not on the list, send me an IM or email, or leave a comment. If you’re on the list and the software you’re using isn’t listed, let me know. If it is a secret program your administration doesn’t know about…well, that’s your problem. 😉

  1. Duke University – AIM
  2. Marin County Free Library – Trillian
  3. Morrisville State College – AIM
  4. Georgia Perimeter College
  5. Hackley Public Library – Trillian
  6. Homer Township Public Library – AIM
  7. Springfield College
  8. St. Joseph County Public Library – Fire
  9. Temple University
  10. Thomas Ford Memorial Library – Trillian
  11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  12. University of Nevada, Las Vegas – Trillian
  13. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Davis Library
  14. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Undergraduate Library
  15. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Brauer Math/Physics
  16. Wake Forest University

library fun with google maps api

You may have heard that google released its google maps api. This means that you can now do all sorts of fun things with plotting your own points on google maps.

There are a number of ways you can get the google maps code to display points. One way is including coordinates directly in the code:

example of plain, basic google maps api implementation

And the other is nifty, because you can get the code to read an XML file:

example of google maps with XML

Now, neither of the above are rather exciting, although the first has a handy box with the address info and a link. My goals are to use something like this on my library’s site for directional info.

The second example has all kinds of potential. For my own geeky pleasure I’m going to look into using GPX (GPS Exchange) to plot out the waypoints of climbs/hikes/rides I’ve done.

A more practical purpose will be finally be creating a (reliable) map interface to our Western Springs History website, giving users a spatial representation of where the houses are.