Chat reference buttons in databases and OPACs

This summer, I hope to help our library add a chat reference button to our OPAC (Aleph500 from ExLibris). The libraries at the University of Iowa have already done this with their implementation of Aleph 500.

I’d also like to find out what database vendors will let our library add a chat button on database search screens. I’ve heard that Gale allows this, but I haven’t had a chance to see what it looks like. I can imagine that EBSCO might allow this, too, as they already give us space to put a link to the library’s web site at the top of the screens for the main different databases we get from them (Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier, EconLit, MasterFile Premier, PsycINFO, etc.)

The logic for adding a chat button to database and OPAC pages is obvious: offer your help as a librarian where the users actually are. Users shouldn’t have to backtrack to the library’s web page to launch a chat. Now if only we could figure out a way to get some real estate on Yahoo! and Google.

3 Replies to “Chat reference buttons in databases and OPACs”

  1. offering digital reference at the point-of-service is great, but most of the services i’ve seen push a new page to patron when they initiate the chat. i’d love to see the librarian joining the patron mid-search.

    i’m not seeing where iowa is offering the live reference service beyond the intro search page – or is aleph500 clever enough to hide the button when the service is closed?

  2. It’s true: I don’t see the link to chat service beyond the main search screen. Too bad. For a while, the online catalog for Wesleyan University used to have such a link, but when I checked a moment ago, I see that it’s no longer there. I’ll have to keep searching for OPACS that have done a thorough job of getting the chat button on every page.

  3. Novelist and our Illinois State Library database cooperative, FirstSearch, both allow links to 24/7. We need to push more databases to allow links! Our library has also considered having a pop-up page during a user’s session, asking if they are finding what they need, with a link to 24/7. This might annoy them more than it would help, but it would be interesting to try it for a little while and see if our stats go up.

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