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Christina's LIS Rant
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
  VR in Corporate Special Libraries via Enterprise IM

I've long been a fan of virtual reference, but there are many reasons joining a cooperative or subscribing to a commercial VR product doesn't work for special libraries.

IM (instant messaging) has been around for a long, long time (I've personally been using it off and on for more than 10 years, more if you include "talk" on Unix LANs) and has made various inroads -- mostly through backchannels -- into corporate settings. Employees first installed the IM clients -- then local admin access was removed and the ports were blocked, so they used a web-based IM client. Finally in 2002-3 we started to see the introduction of enterprise IM onto the market. Later this year, Microsoft's Live Communications Server will start offering interoperability with the Yahoo product and AIM.

Software-wise Enterprise IM differs from Personal IM in several key ways. First, the data and the traffic pass through a local server behind the firewall. Second, there can be filtering to check for inappropriate behavior. Third, it is auditable and can be covered by the digital records management policies required by whatever laws apply to the organization (HIPPA or SEC). Remember, the company owns whatever is typed on the company computer, done on company time, or passes through the company network.

I came back to this topic recently because my workplace just released enterprise IM and because there was so much discussion of it at CIL2005. I would love to eventually write a couple of articles on it, but I have to get some customers first!

So, how does the content -- the conversations, the use -- of enterprise IM differ? How do special libraries/ians market availability through this service? How can/does this work into my proto-model of insinuating the librarian in to the customers' social network? Realistically, how do you show Available (ask me! ask me! -- said in the Monty Python Holy Grail voice) instead of just available?

I started by looking in business databases but then kind of hit a dead end. I now know a lot more about the business of IM and security issues, but not about the use. I then moved to the ACM Guide to Computing Literature. There is some reading material here (sub required for full text). I'm starting with:

As far as marketing goes...? I've made up a poster and will mention it at future presentations... I'm not big on handing out pieces of paper, it's already on my business card (LCS uses your e-mail address)... Ideas anyone? Suggestions?

Update: Resource Shelf points to the new LJ article from Schmidt and Stephens on IM reference (article date 4/1/2005)
instant messaging|virtual reference|special libraries


updated: apparently there were some random xml tags that were throwing the feed off.
 
Comments:
I've been thinking about this issue after finding that it seems a lot of libraries either use some sort of vendor-based "Enterprise" IM solution or simply just run the clients themselves.

Has anyone in the library world looked into Jabber? I've been wanting to try it for a while and it seems like it would fit the library setting (for at least vr) quite well. My only fear would be slowness. Of course, finding a non-commerical server that's reliable could also be a problem .
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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