Last week, I found myself in gorgeous Monterey for the Internet Librarian 2009 conference. It was my first Internet Librarian conference and I appreciated the many useful presentations.
On Tuesday morning, I attended a session about improving IM reference by making it multi-dimensional. The first two presenters were librarians from the University of California, Fullerton who went through a chat session using tools that vastly improved the IM reference session.
The tool I liked the most was Jing, which allows you to quickly record onscreen action and create a url for it. For example, you could record yourself searching the catalog and then instantly share that video over IM. This would abolish the need for long explanations such as “… look in the upper left hand corner of the screen and click on the blue “my libraries link, then scroll down……….etc., etc., etc.” Very handy!
I haven’t yet had the chance to try out Jing. It might be a while since I don’t seem to get too many reference questions over IM. In fact, one of the anecdotal bits of information I gathered from the conference was that IM reference is in decline (whereas text reference is starting to gain popularity). One way to attract patrons to your IM reference is to strategically place chat widgets in your library’s website and catalog. This works for institutions that are open to the public, but for institutions (especially law libraries) that limit access to students and bar members, I’m not sure if that would work well.
More about the virtual reference session at the conference can be found on the Law Library Technology blog.
More on text reference can be found in this article from Library Journal.
And finally, something funny.