Fairfield University DiMenna-Nyselius Librarian Curtis Ferree discusses new library technologies, designed to reach students at Fairfield and abroad.

What are the different technological mediums the library uses to interact/help students?

We try to make ourselves as accessible as possible. We have a physical presence in the library that people can use, and students can call us as well. But they can also email us, IM us, or text us a question. Students can become fans of our Facebook page and get updates about library services that way, and we also have a blog that students can read or subscribe to via RSS feeds.

I also heard that now you are using Skype? Is that also an option?

We just launched a Skype reference service this semester. Originally we were thinking it would be a good way for students studying abroad to reach us, but it’s free for anyone to use.

Has Skype been used a lot by students? Are students aware it launched?

Well, the Skype service is pretty new, so we haven’t had anyone use that yet. but the other services are all pretty heavily used.

Is one more popular than others?

Of the technologies we used, IM is definitely our most popular. More so since we put the chat widget on our homepage.

What are the most popular kinds of questions you get from students via these technologies?

They run the gamut. Some are just short, directional questions asking what our hours are, or if we have a certain book. Others are more in-depth research questions. Basically, students can ask whatever they want. If it’s something we feel we really can’t answer in that format, then we’ll ask the student if there’s another way we can do it.

When is the most popular time ppl IM … late night questions..or throughout the day? Why?

In general, Wednesday is our busiest day. It sort of seems to follow a bell curve, starting lower on Monday then rising to a peak on Wednesday, and then going down a bit into the weekend. It also varies on the time of year. During the two weeks that lead up to finals, we’re busy all the time.

Are certain librarians assigned to certain technologies or is everyone on everything? How does that work?

We are all trained on everything. When we are at the reference desk, we answer emails, the phone, IMs, text messages and all the in-person questions. Right now, we’re only doing Skype by appointment (to account for time difference with study abroad students).

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