Instamatic Instruction: Learn how to use the library via Instant Messaging


Have you ever IM-ed a Librarian? If you have you may have experienced something pretty cool. You asked a question and the librarian said “If you give me a quick minute, I can show you how to use this database” or “Just a sec and I’ll send you a short video on how to do that.”

The library staff is making use of some freely* available tools to help teach you how to be an independent library user. Now don’t get us wrong, we love helping you with your intriguing queries. We get to learn something new every time you ask a question! But… we also want to contribute to your success as a well educated and capable individual upon graduation and part of that is giving you the tools to “do it yourself!”

We have two approaches we use to demonstrate search strategies, how to use a particular database, where to find a book, etc.

    1. Video-casting – The library uses the free version of a tool called Jing (by TechSmith) to quickly record a specific activity on our computer screen.  We can add voice overs, but often simply show where to go, what to type, what to click and more without sound.  Because of the design of the tool, we are able to create a video, upload it and generate a link for you in less than a minute.  That means that you are given visual instruction to teach you how to find the answer to your query often in a matter of minutes!  See an example here.
    2. Screen-sharing – The library uses a the free version of a tool called to share our screen with you, an IM user, on the fly.  We simply send a link through the IM chat box, you click and immediately you are able to see our screen and all we do on our computer.  This has several perks such as an embedded chat box, the ability for us to give you control of our computer and more!  Screen-sharing with even allows us to work collaboratively online, if you want to demonstrate something to the librarian; it can function as a two-way street.

The feedback we have received from you, the student, has been really positive.   So next time you decide to IM the library, feel free to ask to see our screen or get a video to demonstrate the “how-to” answer to your question.  Maybe you’ll find a way to use the tools for your group projects or help your friend figure out how to set-up a new feature on their Facebook profile.

We look forward to getting your next question and teaching you via Instamatic Instruction, how to find your answer!

*We often refer to free versions of tools as “free-for-now.”  With the quick evolution of web-based services, companies often take away the free version once they’ve got users hooked, so it is always a good idea to have other tools to choose from as alternatives. 
Here are a couple:
Skype with Screen-sharing – We have used this tool with students studying abroad.
There are many others available at a cost… enjoy exploring!