Creating an Instant Messaging Reference System

Jody C. Fagan, James Madison University
Michele Calloway


Libraries are expanding digital references services to include chat and instant messaging. Various companies have developed systems for purchase that meet this need without requiring users to download new software or learn a new skill. These systems share many features in common, including transcript storage, sending URLs, and pushing Web pages. Several librarians at an Association of Research Libraries academic library wished to test instant messaging reference with the ability to control and experiment with different implementations of these features. This article describes the features of instant messaging reference systems and the in-house development of a system that incorporates them.