Chat widgets as student/librarian communication tools

Library Hi Tech News

ISSN: 0741-9058

Publication date: 3 May 2011



The purpose of this study is to investigate the extent to which patrons use chat widgets for individual consultations with subject librarians.


Subject librarians with an embedded chat widget on their research guides were contacted and asked to fill out an 11‐question survey on the use of the widgets by students or faculty for consultation purposes.


Overall, patrons used chat widgets infrequently to consult with their subject librarians. Only 28 per cent of librarians reported weekly or daily consultations through the widget. However, certain factors increased the use of this communication tool. These included advertising the service and longer connection times to the chat widget. Consultations were also more frequent according to librarian age group and subject responsibility.

Research limitations/implications

Statistical analyses were precluded due to insufficient number of responses when tabulating cross‐comparisons between survey questions. Only trends, rather than clear conclusions, could be established.


To date, there have not been any studies describing the use of instant messaging or chat widgets by individual librarians, despite the fact that many subject librarians have inserted chat widgets on their subject guides to provide individualized assistance to patrons who seek subject‐specific consultations.



Dennie, D. (2011), "Chat widgets as student/librarian communication tools", Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 13-19.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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