If you look down and over to the right there, you’ll see my Meebo widget – I think they’re great and wish I had more time to be ‘online’. (I like Chris B.’s ‘leave a message’ add-on.)
So, I decided to go in search of a library using Meebo. The library where I work uses Meebo, and after a lot of thought I decided it would be very beneficial for me to ‘anonymously’ ask about my library’s service. The IM service at my library, Brookfield Public Library, is managed by the Adult Services department (I work in Youth Services), and I have only rarely acted as a babysitter.
Since I already knew a bit about the service and its origins I started with some things I didn’t know. Like, how and when do they plan to evaluate it? The librarian on duty said there was no formal plan in place, but as long as people were using it they would continue to monitor it. She explained that they do keep statistics of how and when it’s used.
I noticed that she was typing with entirely correct grammar and punctuation so I asked her if more informal communication, like without caps, was permitted for staff answering im questions. She said that it was proper sentence structure was preferred. I had to ask that, because I never use caps in im… (Even at work!!) Now I know I probably should.
We also discussed the types of questions she gets (and I do know it was a female because there are no men on the reference desk…) as well as the types of users. A lot of the questions are basic questions about library hours, or do you have this book – can you reserve it for me, but there are also in-depth, homework-oriented questions and she believes that those questions are usually coming from within the library. So, our patrons using library computers are making use of the meebo widget on the website!
There was a lengthy discussion about whether or not new users are being reached this way and it actually continued in person when I revealed the next day what I’d done. She isn’t sure how many new users we’re reaching, there have been a few, but we brainstormed for a while about where to put a widget to find those users out there. There are lots of places and we decided we need to hire another person to go out and secure Meebo widget placement in the community. 🙂