Monday Night Update: Episode 5

This episode discusses and shows how the Ohio University Libraries’ Skype Reference Service works.   The video shows the kiosk setup, as well as discusses some of the issues with the service.
If you’d like to learn more about the Skype Reference project, I highly recommend reading Char Booth’s article on the topic. The citation is mentioned in the video, but I’d like to give it to you here in print as well:
Booth, Char (2008). Developing Skype-Based Reference Services. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13 (2), 147-165. Retrieved March 12, 2009, from
Internet voice and video calling have demonstrated a dramatic rise in quality in the past several years and have quickly become communication technologies with a disruptive impact on society. Librarians, who regularly adopt such technologies in outreach and public services, should evaluate Web-calling programs as potential sources of innovative reference programming. This article describes the development of Skype video and Internet telephony pilot reference services at the Ohio University Libraries and considers the utility of Skype and VoIP in a library setting.

9 thoughts on “Monday Night Update: Episode 5

  1. My wife, the reference librarian, told me about your Skype service.
    I am the US blogger for Skype.
    Hoped someone on your team would be willing to be interviewed on Skype video about your service.
    My Skype ID is howardwolinsky
    I am available most Monday afternoons. (I teach the rest of the week at Northwestern’s journalism school.)

  2. Great idea! have you used other types of online services for reference in the past? how do you feel they compare with this service?

  3. this is really cool – love the idea. hope more students use it. maybe you can set up kiosks in other parts of the campus?

    mel in illinois

  4. Melissa: The kiosk is more of a “proof-of-concept”. We would love to have other kiosks around campus, but we’d like them to be fancier, with touch-screens, etc. Unfortunately, right now is not the right time to be spending money on fancy new equipment. There’s also the issue of real estate. Ideally, as spot in the student center would be best, but we haven’t really approached that issue yet.

    Denise: We have been doing IM and Meebo reference for a number of years. We average about 400 questions a month with these services. With the Skype service, we might have 4 questions a month. I think Skype has the potential to grow, but it’s definitely not as pervasive as IM or Meebo. If you had to choose a reference service to implement, definitely go with IM/Meebo.

    Alec: Thanks for your comments.

    Howard: I typically work Monday nights, so I take Monday afternoons off. I’d be glad to talk to you at some point when we can work out a time.

    Thanks, all, for your comments. I’m glad you were able to stop by.

  5. Hi, Chad,
    I’m following this conversation with great interest. Do you still find that Skype service is minimally used? Any idea why? We’re predicting that students prefer something more private for their reference interactions.

    1. Hi Cathy,
      Yes, the service is still minimally used, but the kiosk itself gets a great deal of use. Since the Skype service costs us nothing to staff, it’s a minimal investment. We’re looking again at other staffing models, and I’ll post more about that if/when we change things up. Thanks for stopping by.

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