Tammy Ivins 2012 SCLA Poster SessionRogers Library, Francis Marion University In Meebo’s Wake: Alternative Chat WidgetsIntroductionIn July 2012, the world was shaken by the loss of the Meebo chat widget, which was used by manylibraries as a customer service point on their websites. Google’s elimination of the Meebo widget withonly two weeks’ notice left empty holes on websites where useful chat boxes used to be.In the wake of this loss, libraries are searching for other free chat widgets, pondering the upgrade to oneof several paid options, and considering eliminating the active chat window in favor of traditional IMaccounts.Why Live Chat Widgets?▪ Use live chat instead of instant messengerUse this: Not this:Popular instant messenger (IM) programs include MSN Messenger, AOL chat, Google Talk, and more.Libraries can create accounts on these programs, but downsides to IM include: Patron must have an IM account with the same client Patron must be logged into IM Patron must add the library to their buddy list.On the other hand, live chats are effortless for the student to use. They can click and start typingwithout overcoming any barriers.
Tammy Ivins 2012 SCLA Poster SessionRogers Library, Francis Marion University▪ Use individual chats instead of group chatsUse this: Not this:Some live chat programs allow the patron to join an open discussion board where they can talk withboth the librarian and other patrons. Examples include Chatango and Chatwing. Downsides include: All chats are public (no privacy). Group chats make it harder for the librarian to provide quality service.Individual chats allow the patron anonymity & privacy, while allowing the librarian to focus on theirindividual needs.▪ Use live chat widgets instead of linksUse this: Not this:Instead of a live widget, you might include a link on your website. This is often done to save space.Downsides include: Requires more patron effort. Patrons might think it will be complicated or unsafe.On the other hand, live chat widgets make it easy for the patrons. They can just click and start typing.
Tammy Ivins 2012 SCLA Poster SessionRogers Library, Francis Marion UniversityConclusionLibraries that lost their Meebo widget should know that there is a wide variety of options to allow tothem to keep an active, individual, and live chat widget on their websites. Those libraries who havenever used chat will find it easier than ever to start, thanks to the plethora of good choices.Free options are usually very limited in functionality, customization options, and technical support.Paid chat widgets options are increasing affordable and offer personal technical support. Paid optionsare also offering variety of extra features for free, and they rapidly try to match each other’sadvantages.BibliographyVarious. (2012, July 16-17). Re: A Meebo-shaped hole has been left on our library website...sigh. Retrieved October 23, 2012, from email@example.com.Various. (2012, June 11-12). Re: A Meebo widget is shutting down. What do you or are you going to use instead? Retrieved October 23, 2012, from firstname.lastname@example.org.Westra, B., & Frantz, P. (2009). Chat Widget Placement. Oregon Library Association Journal, 16(2), 16– 21.Images courtesy of Iconfinder.comContactTammy Ivins, Reference LibrarianRogers Library, Francis Marion University Florence, SC843-661-4677 email@example.com