Today's late lunch was precipitated by an impromptu meeting with the librarian in charge of exploring IM and/or Chat for the new library web page. Yesterday morning I broached my reserves about using Pidgin as a multi-client IM server for the library web page. After reading the information and doing additional research (beyond my obviously whining Pidgin poop post), it became apparent using the product in the way we desired would take someone more skilled in technology than I. This has nothing to do with product quality and everything to do with ease of use.
During this meeting, we planned to discuss several points that would need to be raised at a late afternoon staff meeting. First and foremost, there are several librarians on staff who do not know what IM is and how it could be used for possible reference applications. Our recommendation to the director is that everyone download Yahoo! Messsenger to their computers, add each other as a work buddy, and set aside a time each week to work with the software. Secondly, we reported more time would be needed for us to determine the most effective way to utilize Meebo within the library web page. We need to understand more about the software, how we plan to recommend it be used (chat or IM?), and opportunity to develope a strategy of sorts for implementation.
To begin working with IM, and eventually Meebo, I downloaded Yahoo! Messenger to my work computer and added both a friend (library director at another university)and work "buddy" to my IM list. I spent a good hour chatting with them both while getting back in to the rhythm needed to work in an IM/chat environment. A nice feature I noticed immediately with Yahoo! Messengerwas the area directly below my open IM window that noted the other person was typing. Why was that important? Prior experience with library chat had it's quirks; among them lengthy pauses between chatters (librarian and patron) that sometimes led to the eiter party typing in, "hello, are you still there?" Capability to note that the other person is writing their response is an indication to wait for an answer before entering more information and ultimately saves time.
During the meeting our update was recieved with mixed reviews; those who are very interested in exploring the situation and those who feel there is no need to incorporate more than phone numbers and email on the library help page. This is a project we need to have everyone behind for it to be successful. Two or three librarians with interest will not be able to make enough of an impact. We now have two weeks to individually strong arm the other librarians (okay, gently convince) to try the general IM client. Our next meeting will be in an instruction classroom providing us the opportunity to demonstrate usage.
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