Choosing the right technology for your library and what you want to accomplish is important. It could be the difference between success and failure. That is why it took multiple meetings and testings for Jonathan and I to decide which IM service to use in our library.
We finally decided on using Meebo because it has a number of excellent advantages. First, it is a cross-platform service and interacts with all the major IM providers including AIM, MSN, and Yahoo. Next, it is web based so users do not have to download any client software if they do not want to. Finally, it offers “Meebo Me” widgets, which are basically windows embedded into a browser page where you can type and get answers.
It is not without its problems though. It does not provide enough of an alert for monitoring it at the reference desk, unless all the librarians download Firefox (which they should have already, being Information Tyrannosaurs) and then download the Meebo add-on.
We were stumped on what to do for this until we came across a great blog post by Chad Boeninger. It shows you how to hack Meebo together with Pidgin, a piece of IM client software. Pidgin is pretty customizable and adaptable to your needs. It also has excellent options for monitoring IM conversations, so it seemed like the best option for us.
After creating all the IM accounts, testing, and working out all the bugs I think we are at a point where we can actually begin implementing it and rolling out a pilot project. We have a reference meeting after Thanksgiving where Jonathan and I will demonstrating how it works. I am excited to see the staff’s reactions to it.