This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Electronic Highways

Published: September 23, 2004

Instant Librarian: Gen Y is why

The Pew Internet & American Life Project, a non-profit think tank that provides information on the Internet and its impact on society, recently released a report entitled "How Americans Use Instant Messaging." It confirmed what most of us know anecdotally: Millions of Americans use instant messaging programs, with AOL having the dominant market presence. You do not have to subscribe to AOL to use its free AIM Express Service at http://

The report also provides data that delineates how the use of instant messaging varies by age group in the United States. Not surprisingly, 62 percent of "Generation Y" Internet users (ages 18-27) have sent instant messages, with 20 percent of them "IMing" daily. (Yes, for better or worse, IM, like Google, has become a verb.) While the University Libraries strive to provide excellent service to all members of the university community, it is a particular challenge to meet "Gen Yers" on their own turf; i.e., their increasingly ubiquitous IM screens!

The Instant Librarian, now in its fourth year of service to the UB community, is open for the fall semester and ready to answer questions from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and 1-10 p.m. on Sunday.

The service is an easy and fun way to get advice on finding and using the best library resources available for coursework and other research endeavors. Just follow the instructions on the Instant Librarian homepage http :// and within a matter of seconds you'll find yourself chatting with a UB reference librarian. And, of course, it's not just for the "Millennials"—the other name for "Gen Yers." All "generations" are welcome.

Not comfortable making the IM plunge? There are a host of other options for obtaining library assistance. Go to our "Ask Us" page at http :// and decide what works best for you: traditional email, calling a reference desk, visiting a reference desk in person or making a research consultation appointment.

We in the Libraries are not the only group on campus trying to win the "hearts, minds and computer screens" of our customer base. Staff in the Office of Admissions will chat with prospective students and other interested parties during the standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workweek at the "UBAdmit" AIM screen name.

Career Services is able to field career-related questions from all three major IM services: AOL, MSN and Yahoo! Pop into the UBCareerAdvice chat room anytime from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

—Gemma DeVinney, University Libraries