Meebo is shutting down on July 11th. What will SCLS be using instead for instant messaging? imo.im.
How we chose it
- First we identified how we use Meebo and what features Meebo had that were important to us. These included:
- web interface (so we can use it from anywhere without installing a client)
- Android app (so the techs can easily message from their phones)
- a widget for our staff contact pages (so library staff can easily message us)
- good notifications (ideally both audible and visual)
- ability to integrate other services (we haven't used this much in the past, but we didn't necessarily want to rule it out)
- ability to enable or disable chat history
- good price
- We polled the SCLS staff about which features were most important.
- We identified the possibilities. (Some of the contenders included imo, Trillian, Zoho Chat, LibraryH3lp, IM+, and eBuddy, but there were lots of others whose features we reviewed.)
- We narrowed it down to 4 services that we wanted to test (imo, Trillian, Zoho Chat, and LibraryH3lp).
- We tested. (Thanks, Joanna, Mark, and Jean!)
- We decided.
The bad news
The bad news was that none of the services we identified did *everything* we wanted it to do. The big missing feature in most cases was a widget.
We compromised with imo. It has a pretty nice web interface and a good collection of features. SCLS uses Google Apps, and we can use our existing Google Apps accounts to log into imo.im (that's slick!). Staff who want a widget will create a Yahoo account, pull that Yahoo account into imo, and use a Yahoo! Messenger Pingbox widget on their contact page. It's a little clunky, but it should do for now.
SCLS uses IM mostly to communicate within the office. Although we had Meebo widgets on our staff contact pages, most staff received messages from these widgets infrequently. That being the case, we opted for a chat service that didn't provide a widget.
For libraries relying on widgets for reference service, a better alternative might be LibraryH3lp. LibraryH3lp is a product geared specifically toward chat reference and has a widget, as well as features that allow tagging for follow-up and emailing of transcripts.
SCLS is subscribing to LibraryH3lp through the state and is coordinating a pilot virtual reference chat project for SCLS libraries. If you're interested in more information, contact Jean Anderson.