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Apples and Oranges: A Comparison of Proprietary Chat Reference Software Versus Free Instant Messaging Services
 

Apples and Oranges: A Comparison of Proprietary Chat Reference Software Versus Free Instant Messaging Services

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Concurrent session from the first (2008) Reference Renaissance conference in Denver. With Lorrie Evans and Karen Sobel.

Concurrent session from the first (2008) Reference Renaissance conference in Denver. With Lorrie Evans and Karen Sobel.

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    Apples and Oranges: A Comparison of Proprietary Chat Reference Software Versus Free Instant Messaging Services Apples and Oranges: A Comparison of Proprietary Chat Reference Software Versus Free Instant Messaging Services Presentation Transcript

    • Karen Sobel, lorrieevans & Nina McHale
      Auraria Library
      Denver, Colorado
      Apples and Oranges: A Comparison of Proprietary Chat Reference Software Versus Free Instant Messaging Services
    • Proprietary Chat vs. IM
      Definitions:
      Proprietary chat software products/services:
      Tutor.com, LivePerson, QuestionPoint, etc.
      Regional consortia such as AskColorado and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities that typically use this software
      Free IM products/services:
      libraryh3lp, meebo, AIM, Yahoo!, etc.
      Are they mutually exclusive?
      Should libraries offer both?
    • What We’ll Cover
      Karen: user/provider perspectives and concerns
      Student users
      Staff providers
      Lorrie: the public services perspective
      History of both proprietary and IM services at Auraria
      Detailed comparison of AskColorado and AskAuraria! (libraryh3lp)
      Nina: the technical stuff
      Display, implementation, tech support
    • Two User Populations
      Students using the chat services
      Library faculty and staff operating the services
      …each with different needs and concerns
    • Students at Auraria
      Auraria Library serves a student body of 40,000, comprised of three populations:
      Community College of Denver: two-year community college
      Metropolitan State College of Denver: four-year college
      University of Colorado Denver: university
      Many students are from other nations and cultures
      Mostly commuting population
      Many low income
      Split between traditional and non-traditional
      Average student age: 28
    • Faculty and Staff Concerns
      “But I’ve never used IM or other chat…”
      “What if I can’t keep up with the students? Will they get impatient with me?”
      “Will we ever get prank chats or time wasters?”
      “Would our patrons be comfortable with this?”
      “We already have so much to do…”
    • Staffing Questions
      Should we provide chat/IM service the entire time the desk is staffed?
      Is it appropriate to have paraprofessionals staff a chat/IM service?
      Should the person on back-up provide chat/IM reference service?
      What is the “triage” procedure when the desk/phone/chat are all busy?
    • AskColorado at Auraria Library
      AskColorado began in 2003 as a regional and consortial program offering chat reference service to Colorado residents.
      With our large and diverse student population, we felt the need to provide a flexible form of reference service.
      AskColorado would provide just that, with excellent support from the Colorado State Library
      Proprietary software used is Tutor.com
    • Auraria Library Participation in AskColorado
    • AskColorado Use Statistics
    • History of IM Chat at Auraria Library
      2006/2007: started experimenting with chat boxes in class pages (Meebo)
      Very little activity and participation
      Spring 2008: Services Task Group recommended investigating possibilities for adding IM chat service
      Summer 2008: Testing and use of IM from the Library’s home page, branded AskAuraria! (libraryh3lp)
      Extremely active
      16 chat sessions in the first 6 hours
    • Interface Comparison
    • Access/Integration into Library Web Space
    • Policies and Behavior
    • Psychological Aspects
    • Display: AskColorado Login Screen
    • AskColorado Chat Interface
    • AskAuraria! Patron View: Chat On
    • AskAuraria! Patron View: Chat Off
    • AskAuraria! Librarian View: Pidgin Client
    • Implementation: AskColorado
      Tutor.com software needs to be installed with extensive configurations on staff workstations to support all features
      Day-long training sessions are offered at library sites throughout the state through the State Library AskColorado coordinator
      We heart Kris Johnson!
      Minimum staffing commitment: 2-10 hours/week
      Cost: $300-$1500 annually
      Easy to integrate (link) to; no customization
    • Implementation Process: AskAuraria!
      Create account, queues, and operators on libraryh3lp server (libraryh3lp.com)
      Integrate code into Library’s web site
      Web Librarian set up account, queues, operators, and code on Library home page in one evening
      Install Pidgin chat client on staff workstations
      Training approach has been more piecemeal: “Hey, do you guys want to try this?”
      Four staff members volunteered to monitor the queues initially; seven others have since volunteered to join
      Internal training is being offered and planned
      New web page templates will include chat on all pages
      Free!!!
    • Technical Support
    • The Benefits of Both
      Including chat box on the Library’s home page provides immediate access to Auraria Library staff
      When a staff member is online, chat box with simple instructions is displayed
      When no one is monitoring the queue, a list of all other reference options is displayed
      For the most part, the pros and cons of both kinds of chat service are cancelled out when implementing both
    • Questions? AskAuraria!
      Karen Sobel:
      Reference & Instruction Librarian
      karen.sobel@ucdenver.edu
      Lorrie Evans:
      Head of Library Instruction
      lorrie.evans@ucdenver.edu
      Nina McHale:
      Web Librarian
      nina.mchale@ucdenver.edu
      Slides available: http://library.auraria.edu/~nmchale/presentations/refren2008/