First let me say I am not a huge fan of IM. I don’t send text messages on my phone, and I don’t even like to receive them since they cost me a dollar each. However, I have found the chat feature on Facebook handy (particularly to “talk” to my college-age son, who is often hard to reach any other way). I’ve also used various chat/instant messaging widgits on various websites, particularly those with online catalogs (to ask questions before I order an item). Recently I chatted with a colleague at work, a professor in the communications department, who has a Yahoo Messenger Pingbox widgit installed on her blog.
However, after attending TechNet 2008 and hearing Beth Thomsett-Scott’s Reference Beyond the Desk presentation, I decide to give Meebo a try. I’m rdg301librarian there. The reason for the name is that I decided to try IM to see if the students in Reading (RDG) 301, Introduction to Children’s Literature, the main class I support on campus–and the one I just finished substitute-teaching last week :) — would use it.
Back in Fall 2008, I put Meebo widgits on both the blog and the wiki I set up for the class. I even conducted a survey last November and one respondent said they’d used the Meebo widgit, but I really don’t think that’s the case. Granted, I’m not as good as I should be about remembering to sign in (and unfortunately, with audio off on our public desk computers at work, I wouldn’t always be aware when a message came in anyway) – but I still don’t think anyone ever used it.
Nevertheless, I’m going to leave it on our sites. I know my place of work experimented with virtual reference in the past and wasn’t too happy with it, but I’d be willing to help “staff” an IM aggregator service at our library. I’m on our Tech Task Force (which has mostly been focusing on our own 23 Things-type project this past year), so perhaps this topic can be addressed this fall – start of our new year.