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Libraryh3lp – Javascript based IM reference service

My supervisor, Pam Sessoms, has spent years building up the IM reference service throughout campus at UNC. Up until recently, we’ve been using a combination of a custom Pidgin client and Meebo widgets to make the system run. But recently we swapped out the Meebo widget for a custom javascript-based chat widget that Pam and her husband have coded up on their own.

It’s still pretty early in development, but I think their ‘libraryh3lp’ system is an amazing step forward. For one thing, javascript has a much higher compatibility rate than Meebo, which relies on flash. I even got it to work on my iPod touch’s browser! It is also much better from an accessibility point of view, and plays nicer with screen readers for the visually impaired. Also also, the service runs on a custom Jabber server which gives the library much more internal control than relying on a third party network.

Eventually routing and queueing functions will be added, steering the product much more toward library-based usefulness than any of the IM clients currently out there. I’m really excited to see where this goes!
Here’s the project wiki:

And the Google Code page:

And lastly, you can sign up for an account and get your widget up and running with these instructions:

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  1. Oh, this is very exciting to hear! I’ll probably email Pam about this too, but can you tell me a couple of quick things?

    1) can you have more than one person log into it at the same time?

    2) does it support automatic hyperlinks?

    If it does both of those things, we (at Baylor) most likely will drop meebome like a bad habit…

  2. It definitely supports automatic hyperlinks, I was excited to see that.

    About multiple users, do you mean on the patron side or the librarian side? It does support multiple patrons concurrently, assigning each one a guest jabber ID. As for the librarian side, I’m not sure! Getting in touch with Pam is probably the best way to find out.