Discovery 9 – Communicating Online

August 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm 2 comments


Image courtesy of DailyPic

Image courtesy of DailyPic

This discovery exercise is going to take a look at some online communication tools that you may already be familiar yet – indeed you may use some of them almost constantly already. But how might a public library service use these ‘every-day’ tools to better reach our customers?

The tools we’ll look at are:

  • Instant Messaging
  • Text Messaging / Texting / SMS
  • Web Conferencing

Instant Messaging (IM)

 IM is real-time online communication between two or more people. Think of it as very fast email exchange between two people! Each person needs to log into the same IM service, and know each others IM name (much like you need to know someone’s phone number before you phone them). Messages are typed and sent to the other person, and sometimes files (pictures, videos etc) can be shared as well. IM is useful because of the immediate response you can get form another person.

Some more information on IM from How Stuff Works and Wikipedia.

Text Messaging / Texting / SMS (Short Message Service)
If you have a mobile phone you probably know about SMS (or text messaging). This service lets you send short messages of up to 160 characters via your mobile phone. There is a basic cost, which you pay as part of your mobile phone plan or pre-paid account.

Read more about SMS at Optus or Telstra.

Web Conferencing

You can conduct or attend live meetings, training or presentations over the internet using web conferencing. This service allows you to sit at your own computer and connect to the conference over the internet. Sometimes this requires a downloaded application on your computer but it can also be a web-based application where you simply enter a URL into your browser to enter the live meeting. These web-based applications use either Java or Flash technology. A webinar is a type of web conference. A webinar can be one-way, with the speaker giving a presentation or it can be collaborative including question and answer or discussion sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter.



Instant Messaging (IM)

Join up and start chatting! There are stand-alone IM services, but increasingly IM functions are built into social network sites like Facebook. Some IM services require downloads onto your computer and some work totally online. Some popular online ones are:

1. Register with an IM service. Share your IM name on your blog, or share it with friends, family and workmates. Organise a IM chat with someone at another library branch during work hours if you need to practice (Warren and Neal are happy to chat!)

2. Read about Instant Messaging and libraries in this Library Journal article.

 Text Messaging / Texting / SMS

 If you have never played with SMS, or if you don’t have a mobile phone to SMS with, try asking your work colleagues if they could show you SMS on their phones. Your supervisor may have a work mobile which you may be able to borrow and use to try SMS.

Curtin University Library in Australia has an SMS a Query reference service. This paper TXTing Librarians at Curtin (PDF 252 kb) was presented at the Information Online conference in February 2005.

Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki has an extensive list of libraries using SMS and IM for Reference and other customer service work.

Web Conferencing

The State Library of Queensland offer free training to public library staff via web conferencing. They are advertised through the opalinfo email list and the software used works well on CityLibraries staff computers. Sign up for a training session!



Post your thoughts about Instant Messaging, SMS/Texting and Webinars in your learning blog. If you already use any of these tools, share what you like about them and how you use them. If this is the first time you have used one of these services, write some ideas about how you might use it at work or home.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Discovery 8 – Keeping track Discovery 10 – Online Collaboration – Wikis

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alison  |  September 14, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I have recently been involved with online training and have found it amazing. SLQ offers course after course, and you can participate with colleagues or at your own pc. Although trainers save on the cost of morning tea. Hmmm. Still, great innovation

  • […] in Discovery 9 we took a look at SMS / texting on mobile phones. The latest mobile phones are almost like fully […]


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Learning 2.0 is a discovery learning program created by Helene Blowers. Content and style for CityLibrariesLearning has been borrowed and duplicated with permission, under a Creative Commons License.
Creative Commons License
CityLibrariesLearning by CityLibraries Townsville is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License.
Content has also been borrowed and duplicated under Creative Commons Licenses, from All together Now by the School Library Journal and Michael Stephens and 23 Things on a Stick
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