Tag instant messaging

new blog: No Shelf Required

Do you have a list of people you wish would blog about what they’re doing in their libraries? Sue Polenka, Head of Reference at Wright State University’s Paul Laurence Dunbar Library was on my such list. She emailed to tell me I can erase her name. She’s started a blog called No Shelf Required. She calls it a “moderated discussion of the issues surrounding eBooks, for librarians and publishers.”

I hope that Sue fills us in on the eBook scene at her library because I understand that she’s transformed their reference collection and increased library usage. I also wouldn’t mind if she got a bit off topic and told us about how the library has been called a “hero” by students because of their gaming events. And they’re way into IM. Yay.

Thanks, Sue!

yelp sign on a library

Last post I said I’d love to see a “People LOVE US on Yelp” sticker on a library door. My wish came true. Genesis Hansen, Web Services Librarian at the Newport Beach Public Library wrote me:

You said you’d love to see a yelp sign on a library, so here you go! This is the Newport Beach Public Library in Newport Beach, California. I was really stoked to get the letter and window cling from yelp, and so was my Director. All of our yelp reviews are 4 and 5 stars except one. Our 3-star reviewer complained about the poor wireless connection, but I sent him a message letting him know that we just upgraded our equipment, so I hope he’ll give us another try (can’t help him with the eye candy, though).

It’s great to get good (unsolicited) buzz from our customers, and it’s just one more way we can track how well we’re doing.

Agreed, and excellent work following up with the guy about your wifi. Way to be aware!

yelp sticker on a library

Flickr user Don and Kathy Gould also left me a comment on Flickr stating that the Palos Verdes Library District has one. Incidentally, when I checked out the PVLD website, the first thing I noticed was a nice, big MeeboMe widget. Then I noticed a link to their powered by Flickr 40 Families Project.

An inspiring evening. Thanks!

chatting with ted

At age 76, my friend’s dad just bought his first computer: a MacBook. He’s getting set up with all of the best web based tools to use, including gmail. He was getting a computer lesson from his son-in-law and I chatted him up. Despite what he says, he’s doing an excellent job chatting. He even TOTALLY gets how to capitalize the RIGHT WORDS!

Let this serve as more evidence that age does not necessarily have anything to do with whether someone can use computers. Every reference librarian in your building could do IM reference if they really wanted to.

P.S. Just making sure you’ve seen that google is finally using its 5% stake in AOL for something: AIM chatting in Gmail.

more teens have used IM for HOMEWORK than for dating

So then why do some libraries block IM? And why aren’t more libraries available via IM?

Take a look at the press release for the AP-AOL Instant Messaging Trends Survey. The first pullout is amazing! The survey also states that teens are most likely multitasking when they’re IMming by researching homework assignments online.

These will come in handy if you’re trying to start an IM project at your library and need to present stats to the stat driven administrator.

More than half (55 percent) of teen IM users have used instant messaging to get help with their homework. This is a 17 percent increase over last year. Meanwhile, 22 percent of teens say they have sent an IM to ask for or accept a date.

-Forty-three percent of teen IM users say they have used instant messaging to say something they would not say to someone in person. Teenage girls are more likely than boys to do so. Nearly half of teenage girls surveyed have used instant messaging to say something they would not say in person, compared with just over a third of teenage boys.

-Teens today are more likely to upload photos (42 percent in 2007 vs. 34 percent in 2006) while instant messaging. They are less likely to conduct online research for school (57 percent vs. 63 percent) or update their blog or social profile (33 percent vs. 42 percent) while sending IMs.

-Nearly three in four teens (70 percent) and one in four adults (24 percent) send more instant messages than emails.

-Multi-tasking remains very popular, as IM users tend to engage in multiple online activities while sending instant messages. Checking email is the most popular activity among eight in ten adult and teen IM users. After email, adult IM users most often conduct online searches (49 percent), while teens say they like to research homework assignments online (57 percent).

– Nearly four in five (79 percent) at-work IM users say they have used instant messaging in the office to take care of personal matters. One in five (19 percent) IM users say they send more instant messages than emails to their co-workers and colleagues.


meebo firefox add-on alerts you

IMming Reference Librarians, listen up! Meebo has released a meebo firefox add-on. Installing it will put a buddy list in the sidebar of your browser. The sidebar can be hidden if you don’t like it taking up the screen real estate.

One of the biggest complaints about using meebo at the Reference Desk is notifications and alerts. We probably weren’t the only one with this concern, because the add-on has all sorts of options about alerts.

Note: You’ll still need meebo.com open in a window or tab for the sidebar to work.

IM at Park Ridge

Brandee Crisp, reference librarian at Park Ridge Public Library, attended one of my IM workshops at the North Suburban Library System in Illinois. She wrote me an email to let me know about the start of their IM program.

We started a soft rollout of Reference and YA in July, and Children’s Services join us in Sept. So far we have had 92 sessions in 3 months. YA is leading the pack, of course, but overall we’re pleased. We’re also using the widgets for those who don’t have IM accounts.


She also told me that the 92 IMs in 3 months was without any advertising (read: additional staff time). I like the idea of a soft launch to get staff up to speed, and then getting more of the library to join in. Congrats Brandee and Park Ridge!

libraries and IM featured in the chicago tribune

Evanston Public Library’s new IM availability gets a nice plug in the Chicago Trib. The article does a nice job highlighting the fact that some libraries are attempting to remain relevant by adopting the preferred tools of their users.

I’m quoted in the article in a few places, and despite the slightly negative tone I like these the best.

“There’s a lot of dead wood in libraries, and I think there’s a lot of administrations that are kind of just biding their time for retirement and don’t feel like putting forth a lot of effort,” he said. “I think there’s a general culture of resistance to change. That needs to go away.”

“There might be only two or three libraries in the U.S. experimenting with delivering services or notifications via text messages, which is really, really sad,” Schmidt said.

Here’s the article, titled Libraries using IMs to attract young clients.

The Trib has been all over libraries using technology recently. You’ll remember that they covered the TechSource, Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium last month.

meebo love

Jessamyn and I got mentioned on the meebo blog today:

Turns out that locked-down computers, reference librarians who always want to be in touch with their patrons, and the desire to make libraries fun and friendly have given meebo and meebo me the perfect opportunity to shine.

Just recently, we smiled when reading Jessamyn’s blog where she helped a librarian post these posters advocating the use of meebo instead of download clients. Also, Aaron has been traipsing around libraries promoting meebo me as well. He explains, meebo me doesn’t require a download and the widget can be placed directly on the library’s website.

Thanks for keeping meebo in mind when you’re visiting your local library and public computer clusters. We’re happy to help out!

Just in case you haven’t seen it, meebo me is a small web to IM gateway widget that librarians can put on webpages that allows people without IM accounts to IM the library’s screen name. It is pretty much 90% of the functionality of vendor driven web-based chat products….but it is FREE. And it just works. And doesn’t commandeer their whole browser. Etc, etc.

Here’s the full post on the meebo blog: librarian love. There are a few nice, “Yay libraries!” comments on it.

Disclaimer: I would have posted about this even if meebo hadn’t just sent me a sweet t-shirt.

[thanks rob!]

great IM transaction

UPenn librarian Kathryn posted this amazing transcript of an IM transaction on the UPenn Library Staff Blog. There’s nothing library related in the conversation, unless you consider creating warm & fuzzy feelings library work, which you should. Another less understanding librarian could have scoffed at the seemingly random conversation initiated by the patron, but Kathryn doesn’t skip a beat. It is through these interactions that we can create good will towards our institutions. The patron here even offers to bring the librarian a snack! Enjoy this great example of IM creating community!

[15:59] [patronscreenname]: it’s gorgeous out. you should really get outside to the green.
[15:57] [patronscreenname]: man skittles and coffee are a bad combination
[15:58] Upennlib: …agreed. but do you realize you’re IM-ing the Penn Libraries reference chat account?
[15:58] [patronscreenname]: yes
[15:59] Upennlib: (I would love to get outside to the green.)
[15:59] [patronscreenname]: I always wonder who is at the other end
[15:59] Upennlib: well, then. look at that.
[15:59] [patronscreenname]: can I bring you anything?
[15:59] Upennlib: I’m good, thanks. enjoy the sun for all us on the inside!
[15:59] [patronscreenname]: of course
[15:59] [patronscreenname]: enjoy
[16:00] Upennlib: thanks. take care!


security issues in virtual reference systems, ageism

Please don’t mistake this post a bit of schadenfreude, but I was very interested to read an article titled “a spam filter for questionpoint” the other day. In it, Caleb Tucker-Raymond, the Statewide Digital Reference Coordinator for the L-net project, describes the issue of spam coming through QuestionPoint. He also does a great job describing the measures he considered implementing, and the one he actually has implemented to (mostly) stop the arrival of virtual reference spam. Regarding IM security, Caleb hits the nail on the head:

I haven’t used Meebo or other web IM clients much, so I’m not sure if embedding and HTML image or movie or piece of malicious code would be a problem, but something tells me the IM people have it figured out already.

What interested me most about this post, and others about patrons changing font colors within QP by (perhaps) writing some HTML and leaving tags open, is how vendor driven VR products are seen as safe and instant messaging is seen as insecure.

There are a number of reasons why librarians started believing this, but one reason I want to bring up is the not so subtle ageism I see present in many libraries. Because of their age and associated lack of power, it is easy for libraries to manage their behavior. Even though both groups might be participating in the same activities, librarians can much more easily act on biases they have about young people than they can act on the the biases they have about other people. There’s no difference in one patron emailing friends, and another IMing friends. Both are legitimate library activities, and should maybe even be encouraged. “Libraries? Oh yeah, that place where I connect with my friends.” That has a nice ring to it.

It is only possible for librarians to take issue with web activities like gaming, IM, blogging, and MySpace because these things are (incorrectly) seen as the territory of kids. If these things were introduced to the library world not as things that “those crazy Millennials are doing” but rather as new information trends, I doubt librarians would have been able to take such objection. Just because younger people were among the early adopters of these technologies does not give libraries the right to treat them as illegitimate.