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Instant Messaging (IM) Service Helps Students Utilize Reeves Library Resources

Bethlehem, Pa., January 12, 2005 – The Reeves Library at Moravian College recently began providing an instant messaging (IM) service to assist students as they search its repository of more than 250,000 books and over 3,000 print and electronic periodicals. This new service uses AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), a free online chat service, with its newly instituted “IM a Reference Librarian” addition. Via the internet, students at any location across campus may tap into real-time help from Moravian College reference librarians while conducting research.

‘The student response has been great,” said Wendy Juniper, a reference librarian at Reeves. “It’s a real convenience for students working on a paper in a computer lab or dorm to be able to get immediate assistance without leaving the room.”

By delivering this point-of-need service, Moravian provides students with immediate human assistance that answers their questions and educates them about the best ways to access the library’s vast resources. “Typically, students request assistance with finding citations and referencing articles,” said Juniper. “We run a search, send the results page to the student, then conduct a reference interview using instant messaging.”

“We also help students get started by helping them define their topic and refine their searches. It’s a real teaching experience.” Juniper added.

The service is intended for Moravian College students, faculty and staff, as well as outside borrowers with Reeves Library accounts. Questions are accepted during regular reference hours by IMing (instant messaging), the AIM Buddy Name “ReevesReference.” Inquiries are answered on a first-come, first-serve basis, but the priority service is given to patrons who actually are at the Reeves Library Reference Desk.

The website that provides an overview of the IM service cautions that the service is intended to direct students with brief research problems to the appropriate resources. The website encourages students with lengthy or involved questions, or students who need actual books, to visit the Reeves Reference Desk.

Reeves Library’s new method of online help joins some of the most technologically progressive schools in the nation. Lehigh University is the only other college or university in the Lehigh Valley that employs the use of an online chat service for library research help. Moravian College is the only college that uses AIM, a free service most students have downloaded and utilize on a weekly or daily basis.

Reeves Library reference hours are: Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m. to noon; 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. For more information about IMing a Reeves Librarian, please contact librarian Wendy Juniper at 610-861-1546 or email at wajuniper@moravian.edu, or visit the website at www.moravian.edu/library, and click on IM a Librarian under the heading Research Help. The webpage instructs downloading AIM or, alternatively, using AIM Express, which provides the same messaging service without having to download the software.