I’ve been thinking a lot recently about marketing & PR for dig ref services. One of our findings from the NCknows evaluation was that they need to do more marketing to raise awareness of the service around the state & in specific communities. I suggested recently that one reason for the failure of the MIT libraries’ chat service is a disconnect between what the users think the service can offer & what the service can actually offer & that this is a marketing problem. The list goes on. Anyway, as I was thinking about this I realized that someone had already been there & had even come up with a catchy name for it: “In Your Face” Reference!

So I re-read Anne Lipow’s excellent article, which was published in 1999… in internet time, ancient history. In it she writes:

In the electronic environment, a point-of-need reference service needs to be built into the infrastructure of the Internet – ideally on the browser, or as a constant source on specific sites – and must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Some libraries have links to their Ask-A-Librarian service on most, if not every webpage, so that’s been done. But in 1999, building the service into the infrastructure of the browser was wishful thinking. Now, however, with Firefox, it’s totally doable. Indeed, there’s more than one IM/chat extension for Firefox.

I commented the other day on Stephen Francoeur’s post about integrating chat technologies. So let me go one step further & propose a new Firefox extension: an universal IM/chat client that sits in the browser & to which the user could add dig ref services, like the Mycroft search plugin. Someone go develop this.