From a Distance: Robust Reference Service via Instant Messaging

Reference service via instant messaging (IM) has significant potential to benefit distance learners. There has been wide experimentation with IM to expand reference services in libraries across the US, with mixed results. Concern has been expressed that IM cannot provide the same reference experience as face-to-face interactions. One academic library, California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM) has provided local reference service via IM since 2007 and the authors will present evidence that IM can provide distance learners, as well as other library users, with greater access to librarians, while fostering high user satisfaction.