University of Alberta Libraries

The University of Alberta Library’s homepage has their “Ask Us” feature located on the top left hand corner in a bright yellow talk bubble. I have to give two thumbs up for that—you don’t need to squint or try to figure out which emblem or icon to click on before you find that they do indeed have a chat service. After clicking on this, we are led to the “Ask Us” page where the chat feature is located in the middle of the page. I think using this service would be easy for someone who has never Instant Messaged (IM’d) before considering its prime location on the pages. According to Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki, this University library’s chat utilizes LibraryH3lp—a multi-operator integrated IM system. Furthermore, this integrated IM system at the University of Alberta Library routes messages from other IM networks such as AIM, Yahoo! MSN and GTalk. As mentioned on code {4} lib and on one of Google’s pages titled, “libraryh3lp”, LibraryH3lp is a new flexible reference system geared towards Virtual Reference (VR) services in libraries. Need I say more when it’s made specifically for libraries? Yes, I should, according to LibraryH3lp H3lp’s page, the system provides administrative tools for management, creation and centralized transcript storage which ultimately assists Librarians. The chat box is quite appealing and the patron is able to get notifications of a chat from the librarian by sound which is great when there is lag time! You are also able to send a file to the librarian (which is awesome when it’s easier to show the problem on your assignment rather than explaining the issue by typing it out which inevitably could result in miscommunication). This further facilitates the users’ needs and finally you can receive a chat history by email. The chat service is great and fits in well with their other VR services such as emailing in addition to phoning a librarian. In addition to implementing IM services, the library is quite extensive with their user-centered approach and really dives right into the other Web 2.0 services like Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and RSS feeds creating a librarian presence as mentioned by Michael E. Case and Laura C. Savastinuk on their LibraryCrunch blog. I would be happy to use the “Ask Us” chat service if I were a patron at this university. All-in-all I don’t see any problems with their chat options (it is easy to use for a chat veteran or a newbie) or their other well-suited services!

*All screen shots included in this post were taken from University of Alberta Libraries’ website pages.

~ by imavailable4u on April 10, 2011.

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