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I'm Not Here I'm There -- Using a Local Instant Messaging Service in Your Library


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Presentation given on 3/17/2010 to the Library Technology Conference at Macalester College in Minnesota.

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I'm Not Here I'm There -- Using a Local Instant Messaging Service in Your Library

  1. 1. I'm Not Here I'm There: Using a Local Instant Messenger Server in your Library John Fink Digital Technologies Development Librarian McMaster University [email_address]
  2. 2. An apology...
  3. 3. Who am I?
  4. 4. Who are you?
  5. 5. Why did I do this?
  6. 6. A brief primer on our blended service.
  7. 7. <ul><li>I went to library school to do reference.
  8. 8. Then suddenly, I didn't have reference anymore
  9. 9. So I could...
  10. 10. ...hang around the reference desk stalking people
  11. 11. ...hide in the machine room, coming out occasionally to get coffee
  12. 12. ...despair of ever dealing with the public again. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Because if we're taken out of the public sphere, and especially out of reference, we will atrophy . We don't know what patrons are looking for, and we may not be up on the search methods, databases, etc that they're using.
  14. 14. When I was on the desk 10-20 hours a week, I felt energized.
  15. 15. But it's not just me... <ul><li>Any library – any organization – will have problems with communication commensurate with its size.
  16. 16. Email, telephones, newsletters, forums – these are all ok, but nothing really replaces walking by someone's office and going ”Hey, look at this neat thing, you got five minutes?”
  17. 17. This is made way worse if you have multiple branches. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>In other words...
  19. 19. ...we need synchronous as well as asynchronous communications methods.
  20. 20. When I was a young sysadmin, I felt that – maybe even more than http – email was the one service that had to be up.
  21. 21. Now I think that about IM services. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Tackling a social problem with a technical solution.
  23. 23. But back to reference <ul><li>Libraries are changing blah blah blah
  24. 24. ...blah blah blah...
  25. 25. ...dedicated reference services by librarians will, by all measure, get less prevalent instead of more prevalent.
  26. 26. ...I'm a librarian, and I think this mostly sucks. </li></ul>
  27. 27. But why didn't we... <ul><li>...go with telephone referrals?
  28. 28. ...or set office hours?
  29. 29. ...or a hosted IM solution (libraryh3lp, etc)
  30. 30. ...or a ”consumer grade” IM solution (gtalk, AIM, etc.) </li></ul>
  31. 31. DO NOT WANT
  32. 32. NOOOOO
  33. 33. <ul><li>Now that we've got those two out of the way...
  34. 34. ...using standard IM is not ideal because
  35. 35. ...we want to foster a sense of community
  36. 36. ...we want to make it easy enough for all staff to take part
  37. 37. ...we want an in-house solution, for security and convenience.
  38. 38. ...we've heard horror stories about libraryh3lp. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Also... <ul><li>We need some things that standard IM doesn't do...
  40. 40. ...or at least doesn't do easily .
  41. 41. have all users join a single group
  42. 42. they can see and be seen by everybody else
  43. 43. ...and maybe more importantly
  44. 44. … so they can all talk together. </li></ul>
  45. 45. <ul><li>Any solution had to be...
  46. 46. ...standards compliant.
  47. 47. ...usable with cross platform clients.
  48. 48. source.
  49. 49. ...simple to implement.
  50. 50. ...simple to use.
  51. 51. ...local. </li></ul>
  52. 52. Openfire
  53. 53. Why Openfire? <ul><li>Java!
  54. 54. ... Java?
  55. 55. XMPP/Jabber so...
  56. 56. with Pidgin/Adium/<insert multiprotocol client here>
  57. 57. ...can run on commodity hardware.
  58. 58. seriously Java! </li></ul>
  59. 59. But also! <ul><li>Openfire can have everyone added to a buddy group automatically... </li></ul>
  60. 60. And hey presto!
  61. 61. <ul><li>When I say commodity hardware, I mean it.
  62. 62. ...original box a five year old Dell
  63. 63. gb of RAM
  64. 64. ...teeny tiny hard drive.
  65. 65. …on its last legs. </li></ul>
  66. 66. A plea for the cloud...
  67. 67. So how do we use this? <ul><li>...well, originally, we did it so paraprofessionals at desk could, if they got an unanswerable question, send it around to people
  68. 68. ...but we've used it for
  69. 69. ...quick polling
  70. 70. ...general ”socializing”
  71. 71. ...system outages
  72. 72. ...probably lots of other stuff I don't see. And that's fine! </li></ul>
  73. 73. Some problems... <ul><li>Adding accounts is annoying due to no centralized identity service (e.g. LDAP)
  74. 74. XMPP is a standard, but not everyone implements it well (problems exist in Adium that don't in Pidgin, even though both are libpurple based)
  75. 75. For it to really work well, you need outside net access.
  76. 76. This is not always trivial. </li></ul>
  77. 77. And ideally... <ul><li>We'd like buy in at all levels.
  78. 78. Right now, due to our (now departed) access services head we've got most blended services paraprofessionals but...
  79. 79. ...usage is not compulsory.
  80. 80. we us ually see the same 10-15 users.
  81. 81. ...and librarian involvement is not exactly where I'd like it. </li></ul>
  82. 82. Got time for a demo?
  83. 83. Any questions?