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Libraries that IM–Including MPOW

How great to see IM on the cover of LJ, by way of Librarianinblack, and go Aaron! As for the commenter who said she would be the devil’s advocate, then questioned IM because it was “only” 400 IMs in a few months: first, the devil does just fine on his own without any help from us. Second, Aaron already said it doesn’t appreciably add to his workload.

MPOW is about to debut IM on its main page, in a controlled experiment that I think will be equivalent to Aaron’s results. Our handle on AIM is IM4LII, and on Yahoo is im4lii. If you use Yahoo Messenging, could you tell me if IM4LII (upper case) works just as well? Yahoo wouldn’t let me set up an IM name in upper case, but I’m guessing you can type it in and reach us–er, MPOW–anyway.

I used IM4LII as a declarative sentence–as in using IM for LII–and didn’t realize it had a cute little advocacy pun built in (I’m for LII). Fun!

There are a lot of but-buts for opening an IM handle to the public, for reference or just as another way to talk to you. But-but, not everyone can download the client. (Tell that to people who paid the big bucks for QuestionPoint only to realize their users had to install software just to ask a question.) But-but, it doesn’t generate stats. (I guess you closed down your reference desk the day you realized f2f reference didn’t generate its own stats, right?) But-but, we can’t co-browse… it doesn’t have this feature… it doesn’t have that feature… which after a while begins to sound like librarian pencil-sharpening. I am not suggesting you take on a service you can’t support, but if you don’t try it, you’ll never know.

And then, the contradictory arguments so brilliantly exposed on LIB’s blog: but-but, you will be overwhelmed… and but-but, you also won’t have any traffic. I heard both comments when we added features to MPOW for people to comment on item records and send us general feedback. We don’t get much traffic, but to quote Spencer Tracey, “what’s there is cherce.” Our users tell us when they find broken links, praise our efforts, sometimes complain (and that’s o.k.), and in general know they are listened to. IM will only extend the idea that we are a different kind of organization, not just another information trash barge.

Well, I’m going to suffer the consequences of having too much and too little traffic. My guess is I will also be able to handle the “interruptions,” as one person worried, given that this job has far fewer interruptions than those brick libraries with their endless meetings.

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