One of my instructors forwarded an email to our class list-serve with several links to possible chat/IM tools for libraries. I had already been looking at Meebo and Pidgin as options. The new item to me is called Libraryh3lp. Information is available at:
It looks like it would be a fairly robust and full featured option for our needs and for implementation at our library. I was hesitant about other options, including picking one of the mainstream instant messaging applications, because of their limitations. I really want to find something that could be monitored by several people and could allow forwarding or tasking a chat/IM session to another librarian.
I’ll be talking to several others on staff to see what they think and what next steps would be good to further explore this project. We would eventually need to develop policies and procedures, training materials and tutorials, and have several training and exploration experiences for the whole staff before rolling the service out for the general public.