Video IM – The Next Step in Virtual Reference (Cyber Zed Shed)

It's always nice to see a member of the family present at a national conference. Char Booth from Ohio University presented on a video reference service that is currently being prototyped in Athens. Char has posted her presentation on-line. You can also listen (MP3 deep link) to an interview with her courtesy PALINET

The reference team installed a web camera and chat software on a computer on an upper floor of the library. The team hoped to be able to help people on the upper floors so they didn't have to make the trek down to the reference desk. Four video chat clients were tested: Trillian Pro, Windows Live Messenger, Skype, and iChat. Skype was chosen as the preferred client. Future plans include adding video IM as an option on their Ask a Librarian page and installing a walk up video IM kiosk in the newly built student center.

I think video virtual reference is a very cool idea. It may be a challenge to implement at a small academic library based on staffing levels. I do think that video IM would be a good tool for consortial work. 

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