EasyBib’s Library Corner: Meebo’s Closing… Now What?

Emily Gover is an information literacy specialist and in-house librarian for EasyBib. Her professional interests lie in web services and design, usability, information literacy, instructional services and reference work. She continues to work part-time at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library, and has previous work experience at Berry College, Reader’s Digest and the University at Albany.

Hi, all! Sorry for skipping a post last week, things have been quite busy here at The Bib. It is a sweltering 97 degrees right now in New York, so my best tactic at keeping cool is staying in the A/C and blogging to you lovely folks.

If you haven’t heard the news, Google acquired instant messaging platform and popular virtual reference service Meebo last week for a cool $100 million. Unfortunately, along with the acquisition came a shut down of nearly all Meebo services, including the Meebo Me widget, which was a popular (and free) virtual reference option for libraries.

I frequented the virtual reference service while I was in library school. If I was buried in the basement of the library with a disorganized pile of textbooks, journal articles and notepads, the last thing I wanted to do was either 1) pack up all my stuff and scour the upper levels to find a librarian or 2) risk having my stuff stolen if I opted to dart upstairs to ask a quick question. Having the ability to just log on to the library web site, type in my question, and get an answer right away was an amazing and invaluable service for me and my classmates. While I worked at Berry College, one of the top priorities I had for our redesign of the library’s web site was to add a virtual reference widget.

It’s less than a month until Meebo’s services are shut down for good, so what other options are out there for libraries to use?

In no particular order, here are some other free and paid alternatives. As with most library services, your best option will depend on the size of your institution and the volume of virtual reference questions you receive. It’s different for everyone, but hopefully one of these will fit your needs!

Service Cost
Chatwing Free
Question Point (OCLC) Paid – Request a price quote
Chatango Free
LibraryH3lp Paid – View pricing
Plugoo Free (still in beta)
Olark Paid – View pricing
Zoho Chat Free
LibChat (Springshare) Will debut at ALA Annual, contact them for more information or watch a video.

5 Comments

  1. Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for the mention! This is Pam of LibraryH3lp. I’ve played with Zoho a little bit.  Looks like a really nice alternative for those who need something free. Recently, we also blogged about alternatives (http://libraryh3lp.blogspot.com/2012/06/meebo-migrations-alternatives-for.html ). There you’ll find another free option and a few testing pointers for those looking into paid options.

    • Posted July 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Pam, thanks for your comment. You post provides a lot more detail and discusses various points of need for libraries. Thank you for sharing it!

  2. Patricia
    Posted June 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hello, if we are looking for starting a virtual reference service, what would you recommend?. My library doesn’t have a virtual reference service. Thank you very much.

    • Posted July 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Patricia, I have heard a lot of positive feedback about Libraryh3lp, but it is a paid service (not sure if that would be feasible for you and your library?). To my knowledge, Chatwing is free and has a widget that can be embedded by HTML, so if this is your first time testing out virtual reference, it may make more sense to go with a free service to test the waters before investing in a paid service.

      Just my two cents. Good luck!

  3. Posted March 5, 2013 at 12:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hiya Emily!

    I have another one for the list: Mosio for Libraries (formerly known as Mosio’s Text a Librarian) launched chat over the summer on the same day Meebo shut down. The Mosio service now includes chat, email and text messaging all in the same dashboard. A paid service, but currently used in over 1,000 libraries and people are really loving having all of the channels in one place, much more efficient.

    Thank you!

    Tessa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: