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Librarians are Instant Messaging at the UMD Library

HEADLINE: Librarians are Instant Messaging at the UMD Library

BYLINE: By Jim Vileta, UMD Library

SOURCE: University of Minnesota Duluth


The UMD Library has launched a new service to offer online assistance in real time to UMD students, faculty and staff. With the launch of the new Ask Us! Instant Messaging (IM) service, people are now able to quickly communicate with a librarian without leaving the comfort of their computers at home, in their offices or even in the Library.

According to Jim Vileta, team member of the Library's Virtual Reference Services, the Library sought ways to expand their outreach beyond in-person, telephone, and e-mail interactions. Recognizing the growing popularity of Instant Messaging (IM), the Library decided to reach out through this new avenue of communication. Now people can get immediate assistance from a librarian through Instant Messaging on AOL, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, and GoogleTalk. With an account on one of those networks, one can contact a librarian in just a few clicks.

In addition, there is a separate sophisticated yet easy to use Chat/Co-Browse system that connects people with librarians who not only answer their questions by text chat, but also via a shared web browser. Seeing what the librarian sees empowers people to visually learn how and where to find information in the Library's Web site and databases.

These two real-time services are supplemented by an e-mail form for off hours and less time sensitive questions. A librarian usually replys within 24 hours.

IM and Chat/Co-Browse are available to all UMD faculty, staff and students. Chat/Co-Browse is available Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. IM is available whenever the Reference Desk is open -- 65 hours per week. Users seeking help at other times may use the e-mail form on the Ask Us! page. Help spread the word about Ask Us! Look for the Library's posters, table tents, and bookmarks listing our buddy names. To learn more, and learn how to connect, go to: