IM is for Instant Millennials: Developing Staffing Models and Best Practices for Instant Messaging
This is the authors' version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Alex R. Hodges and Meg Meiman for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Technical Services Quarterly, Volume 26 Issue 3, January 2009. doi:10.1080/07317130802520203 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07317130802520203) Shifting American University’s virtual reference service model from a consortial, vendor-based endeavor to an institution-only com- mercial instant messaging service required a team effort. This nec- essary service and resulting organizational change was comprised of nimble players (reference providers) and flexible management (administrative oversight). Performance guidelines were adapted from the vendor chat experience. Instant messaging service train- ing required modifications to our library’s internal communica- tion and development of staff performance guidelines, as well as the creation of innovative management workflow solutions. This article describes how instant messaging reference service shook up our organization and made the sharing of training best practices an organizational norm for cross-functional endeavors.