Our Chat reference service started on September 19. We are officially staffing the service from noon - 5:00 M-F, however we will probably be able to monitor it until 7:00 most days.
We do not want the librarian on the reference desk to have to monitor the online chat service at the same time as the reference desk. Past experience suggests this can 1) cause confusion because people at the desk may not realize that the librarian is really helping another customer and not just ignoring them while the librarian finishes typing and 2) it can be too much for one librarian to handle. On days when we have a librarian not on the desk and not teaching a class, we can probably monitor the online chat until 7:00.
We have had some discussion about our Chat reference web page as well. Some have questioned what the difference was between the Chat and IM services. Basically, the IM service is for people who use AIM already and they probably know how to use it. The rest of the people should probably just use the Chat service. So what we want the page to say is "If you already use AIM and want to send IM a references question to us, go right ahead. If you don't know what IM is, or how it works, don't worry about it - just click on the "Chat with a Librarian Button". I suspect AIM users will understand this, but we may need to redesign the page a bit for those who aren't IM savvy.
Posted by Michael to reference at 9/19/2005 01:32:00 PM