A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about using Pidgin and Meebo for our IM Reference service. They have worked fairly well and the service gets a lot of use, but there have been a few problems. Pidgin would crash unexpectedly which was mildly annoying. The biggest problem though, was that users could leave messages when we were offline. When we opened up the IM client, their questions would be there waiting for us with no contact information and no way to reach them.
Until now we just lived with it, but when I was writing my previous post on Pidgin I came across an article on LifeHacker. It was about Pidgin, but in the comments a number of people discussed how they used a different program called Digsby to monitor their IM as well as social network accounts. I downloaded it, tested it out for a couple of days and found it would likely work well for the library.
At the library we’ll probably only be using Digsby for IM to begin with, but I am pretty confident it will solve our problems. When you’re offline, their IM widgets do not allow people to leave you offline messages. Also, because the Digsby widgets and client is all one program (unlike our previous Meebo widgets and Pidgin chat client) it may be more stable.
We just implemented it on the library homepage so we’ll try it for a while. Classes start Monday so we’ll see soon how well it works.