Online Reference

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Libraries Using Virtual Reference Services

You can also check out the LISWiki's List of libraries providing virtual reference services for a list of libraries providing Virtual Reference services of all kinds.


Software We Like for IM Reference

If you would like to recommend software, please sign your name to the recommendation so that we know it's not from a vendor. An explanation of why you like this software would be great too!

  • Trillian - Multiple network program (Recommended by Meredith)
  • Pidgin - Open Source, multiple network (Recommended by Meredith)
  • Fire - Open Source, Mac, multiple network (Recommended by Aaron)
  • Adium - Open Source, Mac, multiple networks (Recommended by Aaron)
  • Meebo - Multiple network, web-based interface (Recommended by Jon)
    • Also: Meebo me! is a widget that lets people chat at you directly through your web site.
  • Miranda - Multiple networks, thin client, great plugins for scripts using spell checker, works well under low bandwidth, Open Source (Recommended by Steven)
  • Web-Based Instant Messengers: A Mini-Guide - listing of 12 web-based IM options
  • Libraryh3lp - Anonymous widget on the website so users don't need to use Aim, Yahoo, MSN. Can receive Aim, Yahoo, MSN IMS also. Can run on multiple computers, doesn't display when the library is closed, nice stats/saved transcripts. Inexpensive. (Recommended by Susan)
  • LiveZilla - Personalisable widget with Windows client software. Offline chat requests are sent via email. Free! (Recommended by Tom)

Software for SMS Reference

  • Google SMS
  • Altarama's Reference by SMS
  • AIM Hack: Your users can:
    • Send a message to 246246 (AIMAIM)
    • Enter the text "send [library's AIM address] [question]" (without quotations or brackets)
      • For example:
      • send anytownlibrarychat what are yr hours?
    • From that point on, send and receive messages as you normally would. (Your patron doesn't need to use the account prefix, etc. for each message during the session)
    • Standard messaging rates will apply
  • Text a Librarian, Powered by Mosio - Text Message (SMS) Reference Services. Accessible on over 260 million US mobile phones using a mobile, cell phone carrier approved technologies. Used by single branch libraries or multi-library cooperatives.
  • LibraryH3lp Twilio SMS Gateway - Patrons text a phone number, not a short code/keyword combination. US phone numbers only; international texts can be received and sent. Text messages can be flexibly routed and transferred among librarians.
  • LibraryH3lp Android SMS Gateway - Library provides the Google Android phone and creates a gateway using LibraryH3lp. Patrons text a phone number, not a short code/keyword combination. Text messages can be flexibly routed and transferred among librarians.
  • LibraryH3lp Google Voice Gateway - Library obtains a Google Voice account and phone number. Patrons text a phone number, not a short code/keyword combination. Librarian respond via IM as with other LibraryH3lp questions.
  • Upside Wireless is an SMS gateway company used by UCLA Libraries
  • Twilio Provides US phone numbers and APIs for developers to use in creating their own applications. Libraries with programming resources available could roll their own SMS service.

Software We Like for Online VoIP, Video or Co-Browsing Reference

If you would like to recommend software, please sign your name to the recommendation so that we know it's not from a vendor. An explanation of why you like this software would be great too!


Blogs/Websites to Watch


Specific Blog Posts/Articles to Check Out


Resources for IM Reference Training

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