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2006 Conference, in a session devoted to IM and libraries, I was asked to speak a few minutes about how IM can improve collaboration and build community among librarians. However, this library system is very reluctant to change and slow to respond to most new ideas.

So I created a brief survey at Survey Monkey, and the informal survey yielded more than 600 responses. I feel very discouraged when I meet with professionals in other library systems that get to try new things.” I also received some survey feedback about barriers in some libraries that prevent the librarians from using IM.

Instant messaging, commonly referred to as IM, is real-time, synchronous conversation between two people via the Internet.

Features of the various messaging clients, none of which can actually communicate with each other, include: Other features might include file transfer and the capability for video chat or voice chat.

Most interesting, I thought, were the open-ended, qualitative answers. One type of barrier was the perceived intrusiveness of IM, “I don’t use it.

E-mail works just fine for me, without the intrusiveness of IM.” Another barrier was time: “We are a small staff and don’t have time to be confined to the computer.” IT barriers were also cited: “Our City IT has forbidden its use for security reasons, so we rely on e-mail, phone, and face-to-face conversations to communicate and maintain relationships.” I think IM in my public library is an example of the generation gap between staff members.

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The AOL Instant Messaging Trends Survey reports: The #1 benefit of IM in libraries is it puts the library where traditionally hard-to-reach users already are, in a medium they’re comfortable with, and in a way that’s 100% free for the library.

Sarah Houghton, The Librarian in Black, What can libraries and librarians do with IM?

IM has been around for a long time in Internet years.

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Remember your America Online buddies you chatted with via dial up back in 1995? IM has also been dubbed a Web 2.0 tool because of its participatory, social nature. Figure 15: IM Chat Window It is also a very popular tool!

It creates a means of social interaction—of community.