LibraryH3lp is an integrated web chat/IM/SMS platform created especially for libraries.
It allows multiple librarians to receive chats from its native chat widget or Meebo Me widgets as well as IMs from patrons on other IM networks such as AIM and Google Talk. While it routes messages to multiple librarians, only the first one to respond "wins" the chat and becomes connected with the patron.
It is very mobile-device friendly. It provides a very robust SMS gateway that gives you a dedicated phone number. It allows patrons to text their library using a phone number rather than a short code/keyword combination. There is a mobile-friendly chat widget, and librarians can staff the service from many different mobile chat clients.
Librarians in the same administrative domain can transfer any chats, IMs, or text messages to each other as needed. The system provides an administrative backend for service creation, management, and centralized transcript storage, download, and deletion.
LibraryH3lp was developed by programmer Eric Sessoms to support an after-hours chat and IM collaborative service between Duke, NCSU, and UNC-Chapel Hill. Eric is President of Nub Games, Inc., a small software company. Eric's partner, Pam Sessoms, started full-time work on LibraryH3lp in January 2012. Pam was a librarian at UNC-Chapel Hill for many years, working with virtual reference services. Developer and support guru Amy Shelton joined Nub Games, Inc., in May 2011.
Get started by registering for a free, no-risk trial at http://us.libraryh3lp.com/. Registration creates your top-level admin account. You will use that account to create other users, queues, widgets, IM gateways, and to generally work with the system.
Bridgewater, R., & Cole, M. B. (2009). Instant messaging reference: A practical guide. Chandos information professional series. Oxford: Chandos. Libraryh3lp is mentioned in this excellent book on IM reference service.
Evans, L., McHale, N., & Sobel, K. (2009). Review: Libraryh3lp. The Charleston Advisor, 10(4), 25-29.
Keck, A. (2009). Diktuon: Virtual Reference. Theological Librarianship: An Online Journal of the American Theological Library Association, 2(1), 1-2.
Sessoms, E. & Sessoms, P. (2008). Libraryh3lp: A New Flexible Chat Reference System. Code4Lib Journal, 4(2008-09-22). The screenshots of the admin interface are out of date, but it provides an excellent overview of the system.
Theiss-White, D., Dale, J., Fritch, M.E., Bonella, L., & Coleman, J. (2009). IM'ing overload: Libraryh3lp to the rescue. Library Hi Tech News, 26(1/2), 12-17.
J. (2009). IM'ing overload: Libraryh3lp to the rescue. Library Hi Tech News, 26(1/2), 12-17.