Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When I Chat Through IM... makes me feel like #1.

I was reading over Michael Stephens "Five Phrases I Hope I Never Hear Again.." post and this little quote about IM from the Wandering Eyre blog caught my eye:

"As a profession, we need to get over the idea that IM is bad, that it is going to go away, and that it is not useful. This is about reaching our users in the formats they are already using. It is about using technology smartly and efficiently. "

I'm going to be on a couple of panels in the next few months discussing IM so this is right along the lines of what I've been thinking. I'll be honest, people aren't beating down the doors to use our IM service. BUT I answer just as many IM questions as I do email questions and phone questions. I really don't see anyone questioning the value of using those technologies to provide service. Why should IM be any different? It's just a tool - like a telephone or an email account - that helps us do our job. Reaching out to and working with our library users.

Wandering Eyre also noted that a usual response to IM in her library is "...waste of money, waste of time...". How much does our IM service cost? NOTHING. How much time does it take? Admittedly it took some time on the front end to evaluate and load (free) software, set up accounts, get buy-in, and train people. And I spend a little time each semester scheduling. But once the project got started the person who is on IM duty logs into Trillian, it runs in the background and said librarian does other work until there's a question.

Not a bad investment, IMHO, even if just 2 people a week use it. That's 2 people who might not have interacted w/ us otherwise. And maybe 2 more people than would have used a costly VR service since IM is already familiar.

Thanks to Michael for pointing out Wandering Eyre too. It's one I had never read before and been enjoying it today.


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