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Web 2.0 initiatives excel in the Rutgers University Libraries

Fans of social media who seek informative examples at the university might want to start with the University Libraries.

Three initiatives merit special attention.

MEEBO

In February 2008 Libraries began offering an online chat reference service for 15 hours per week--Sundays through Thursdays 7 pm to 10 pm--using Meebo anonymous Instant Messaging. Currently the service is available 31 hours per week - Mondays through Thursdays, 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, and Sundays through Thursdays, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

During the hours that the service is available, the Meebo chat box appears on the frontpage of the Libraries' website (www.libraries.rutgers.edu), at the top of the page. Users can type in any question and chat with a Rutgers librarian on call that day. All inquiries are anonymous.

The Meebo service has proven enormously successful. In the first 60 hours that the service was available, librarians answered 568 reference questions. In the busiest day of operation to date, February 23, 2009, the librarian on call answered 84 questions in one three-hour shift. In the 2008/2009 academic year the service answered 7025 questions within 803 hours of operation.

The Meebo coordinator, librarian Natalie Borisovets, noted in a recent symposium that in her contacts with colleagues from academic libraries across the country who use Meebo to provide reference services, none report the level of use that the Rutgers University Libraries are experiencing.

TWITTER

Librarian Katie Anderson of the Paul Robeson Library, on the Rutgers-Camden campus, decided to use social media to communicate the resources and services of the library to their largely urban and commuter student body.

She established the @RobesonLibrary profile on Twitter in May 2009 and with little promotion has already attracted over 160 followers. She has used the service to publicize new resources, respond to user comments, and monitor developments in higher education.

Katie learned in December that the Robeson Library is one of the top five most active Twitter accounts among all libraries of universities belonging to the American Association of Universities (AAU).

FACEBOOK

Established in fall 2006, the Rutgers University Libraries' Facebook presence has served as a platform for publicizing special events, sharing news of new resources, and engaging Rutgers community members in the ongoing conversations of the Libraries.

The Libraries' Facebook fan page, "Rutgers University Libraries," has attracted over 220 fans and elicited comments and feedback from two dozen students, university staff, and alumni in the spring 2010 semester alone.

An article about Rutgers University Libraries' Facebook initiative was printed in the Association of College and Research Libraries' (ACRL) national magazine College and Research Libraries News in January 2009. The article's author, Libraries Communications Director Harry Glazer, was invited by the magazine editor to record a podcast on the topic of the article, which was posted on ACRL's website.

The article and podcast received favorable attention in the American Libraries Association's American Libraries Direct weekly e-newsletter, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) of London's Cilip Podcasts blog, Pennsylvania-based Palinet's weekly e-newsletter palinetnews, and the Spanish-language blog InfoBlog EEA.

Posted April 30, 2010; May 3, 2010