14 · Survey Results: Executive Summary
Chat and Instant Messaging
All but a few of the respondents have implemented
a chat or IM service. These services began as early
as 1993 and have experienced fairly steady growth
since then, reaching a peak in 2007. Commercial
IM services include AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo
Messenger, GoogleTalk and Windows Messenger.
Vendor-based chat services include QuestionPoint,
LiveAssistance, Tutor.com, and LivePerson. Meebo
was also frequently mentioned as an IM aggregator,
enabling librarians to easily monitor multiple IM
services simultaneously. The distinction between
chat and IM is blurring and the terms are now often
used interchangeably. These tools are primarily used
to provide reference service and enable timely com-
Voice over IP Services
Only 18 respondents reported using a Voice over
Internet Protocol service. The earliest reported use
of VoIP was for an intra-university service, “CU-See-
Me” in about 1996. This was a point-to-point commu-
nication device for patrons to ask reference questions.
Today, most respondents are using Skype. They use
this service to communicate with international proj-
ect partners, distant education students and faculty,
and off-campus team members. The main goal for
using this tool is to share information between staff
at different institutions.
Virtual Worlds
Eighteen respondents have a presence in the virtual
world Second Life. Eleven of these implemented the
presence in 2007. Most respondents admit that they
are still experimenting. Already librarians are pro-
viding reference service, access to the library catalog
and Web site, virtual meeting and lounge space, and
weekly brownbag sessions in this online environ-
ment. Their main goal for Second Life is to provide
virtual training and meeting opportunities for staff
and library users.
Forty-six libraries report using widgets. Most are
using chat widgets, primarily MeeboMe a few are
using search widgets such as iGoogle and browser
toolbars. Meebo widgets are being integrated into
Web pages, library guides, and course sites to en-
able easier communication between library users
and staff. Facebook widgets have been developed
that allow users to search the library catalog. iGoogle
widgets allow users to embed a search box for library
resources in their own Web page. For example, “many
subject librarians are adding the Meebo widget to
their online profile pages to allow users to commu-
nicate with and contact them more easily.” The main
goal of these tools is to facilitate communication be-
tween library staff and users.
Organization and Management
Almost half of the respondents reported that social
software initiatives and activities are not coordinated,
rather individual staff are responsible for their own
activities. Only ten libraries have a standing or ad
hoc committee or other group that implements or
manages these initiatives. Management falls under
a specific department at four libraries. Sixteen re-
spondents described another management structure.
Most indicate that responsibility for these activities is
spread across the library.
Staff participation in the use of almost every social
software application is voluntary. When participation
is required, it is most likely to be for chat and IM for
reference librarians or Wikis for committee work. The
survey asked whether voluntary use of these tools is
encouraged and if so, how. Eighty-two percent of re-
spondents said they do encourage staff to participate.
Workshops and other presentations have been used
most often to demonstrate the software and discuss
how it can be used. Training programs, practice ses-
sions, and one-on-one training have been effective.
Several respondents mentioned the importance of
strong administrative support, too.
The survey asked how many library staff (FTE)
participate in each of the ten types of social software
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