Chat Reference

In my last post I mentioned how nice it would be to have an academic mobile chat reference service. I was very rightly corrected by Mosio (see comments on blog post 1/11/09). I now, of course, remember reading about their service in Library Journal ( 11/1/08, vol.133, issue 18, p 22) and it is true, to the best of my knowledge they are one of the only “commercial” services offering a way to have a mobile chat reference that is staffed by librarians (or any other kind of vetted information professional).

My problem with Mosio’s service is that it is not comparative in some crucial ways to the other free services I mentioned in my last post. Mosio’s Text a Librarian service is run out of an academic institution and is intended to be used by that institutions community not the tube-o-sphere like the other free reference services.  The academic institution must pay Mosio for the service and it is nicely integrated into whatever IM or chat ref service they have already set up including archiving which I admit is very cool for the institution. While this is a good idea as an addition to a 24/7 reference service that ones institution also pays for it is yet another bill from another service that I suspect will be added at some point soon to the 24/7 package we are currently purchasing (for my insitution that would be OCLC’s Question Point).


Ahh, so good to get back to my blog. My excuse is not a bad one, I had to complete and orally defend my comprehensive paper for Pepperdine University where I am working on my doctorate in Educational Technology. Good news, I passed with no modifications and can now move on to the glory that is the dissertation process.

As I continue the implementation of our 24/7 ref service at San Diego Mesa College I am becoming more aware of the competing reference services that have cropped up. Most do not appear to be in direct competition with our chat service because they are geared toward the mobile phone user however this tells me that this is a market we will need to breach at some point, sooner rather than later, so I am taking note.

From what I have gathered most mobile chat services have not actively sought experts. Here are some of the mobile services that have come onto my radar as most popular (or most hyped) beginning with Cha Cha which boasts “free mobile answers. Anytime. Anywhere.” It is my understanding that the answers to Cha Cha mobile questions come from Cha Cha Guides who are people who do not need to know how to do anymore than a Google Search. Their incentive to do a good job is monetary, however to begin they can receive as little as two cents per answer. The incentive to do well is by building a reputation of respected answers which will return a greater monetary gain.