At our library, our staff take turns manning the IM service every hour. This past hour I had four IM’s. As you can see below, we’re receiving a variety of questions over IM.
- Student received an email that a book she requested through OhioLINK was in. She was needing to know where to go pick it up. Answered in approximately 30 seconds.
- Student needed to know if the library had a lost-and-found. I answered that is was on the 4th floor of the library, and I said, “Good luck finding your stuff.” Realizing that this could be interpreted the wrong way without the benefit of voice inflection, I clarified my response. I told the patron, “I meant that in a friendly ‘I hope you find your stuff kind of way’, not in a more sarcastic tone. Perhaps that’s just me being paranoid, but you never know how someone will interpret what you type. Note to self, make sure you use the proper emoticon. Time to answer the question: less than 1 minute.
- Patron needed help searching Social Sciences Citation Index. I initally balked at this question, because ISI can be a tad difficult to explain in person, much less via IM. Patron clarified what he needed, and wanted earlier citations than what our subscription allows. I referred him to the good ‘ole print, and he was satisfied. Time to answer: ~2 minutes.
- Fourth question was a student having trouble finding articles of the affects of alzheimers disease on both the patients and the family. I walked her through a few searches in Academic Search Premier and the patron seemed to be happy. Time spent: 5 minutes.
Not bad, four questions in less than eight minutes. Each librarian staffs the service from his/her personal desk, so if they aren’t busy, they can occupy their time with other things. I answered a few reference emails, updated my calendar, and messed around with the wiki during the 52 minutes that I wasn’t IMing with a patron. Some hours are a little slower while other shifts can be a little more hectic. I’m holding out on reporting statistics for a little while longer, but I’ll be sure to report on our usage here. One thing I can report for sure right now—–this service is definitely getting used.