I headed over to the recently meebo me widgeted Ask a Librarian page at Skokie Public Library and had the following conversation:
meeboguest376001: Hi there! I'm a LIS student at Dominican University and hoping to ask a few questions regarding IM'ing at your library. Is now a good time?
ask skokie: We just began the IM link this past week so I don't know how much info we have to offer you yet. Do you want to talk with one of the librarians who set it up, if yes I can give you their names and let you know when they are scheduled to be in the library.
meeboguest376001: No, I don't think I'll need to talk to one of them. If you don't have info, that's fine. Do you know how it was integrated into your system?
ask skokie: We are using the Meebo aggregator so we can serve people with the various IM providers such as AIM Yahoo Google etc
meeboguest376001: Yeah, meebo is a nice IM aggregator. Have you noticed a lot more reference questions coming in?
ask skokie: We have just placed the Widget this week. Have not really publicized it yet. Soft rollout. We will be doing flyers, bookmarks articles in newsletter later in the year.
meeboguest376001: OK, I didn't know it was so recently--though it's great that you guys are rolling it out. Any idea as to how you'll go about evaluating it?
ask skokie: Keeping Stats on sessions--will keep archives of transcripts stripped of any personal identifiers. We consider it another way to make contact---like the telephone. Will treat requests as we treat any other request for information. If we cannot answer completely via chat will ask for email or phone for more detailed followup
meeboguest376001: Was there any staff training involved in rolling it out?
ask skokie: Not much---had a short intro session and did a cheat sheet. We have been doing AskAway Virtual Reference---so concept not new. Software is easy--not much to learn just type rather than talk
meeboguest376001: Ok, last question (you've been very helpful!): Any plans to place meebo on every results page of your lib's search interface--to be at the point of need for your users?
ask skokie: We are considering this---Heard Michael Stephens suggest it & he's right. We will be expanding placement, though our site has literally thousands of pages--so not sure will be on all but definitely will eventually be on many more
meeboguest376001: Oh, that's funny! I'm taking Michael's Lib. 2.0 class this semester!
ask skokie: He's great---knows his stuff- interesting speaker too!
meeboguest376001: Thanks again for your help!
ask skokie: Good luck in your classes. feel free to contact us again any time we're open
-All in all a very good experience, and I'm ashamed to say one of the longest, no make that the first! IM conversations I've ever had. I know that the PewInternet and American Life Study revealed that, contrary to what many thought, adults are actually using IM. Still, there is a huge generatin gap according to a similar AOL study of IM use.
Anyone with teenagers knows already that there is a huge generation gap in IM usage. In AOL's survey, IM usage ran 90 percent among those age 13 to 21; 71 percent for ages 22 to 34; 55 percent for ages 35 to 54; and 48 percent for 55 and older.
More than half of those over 35 are using IM? Where have I been? Probably all those years I resisted using a cellphone, no?