Enhancing Your Remote Support Options

One person can’t be in two places at the same time, but two or more people in separate locations (and the information they need to do their work) can be in the same place at the same time, thanks to today’s collaborative technologies.

That’s good news for librarians, who may be called on to support the information needs of clients in different buildings, different cities, and even different countries. The challenge is to find a technology that meets the needs of everyone in the group and is easy to use—and David Stern says that such tools do exist.

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“There are now a few free tools that provide easy sharing of screens, some shared whiteboard spaces (if your pushed screen accommodates such functionality), and other collaboration options without special software or dedicated user accounts,” he writes in the September-October issue of Information Outlook. “There are often seat limits for free accounts, but some services offer special educational options and/or discounts if you create accounts, and some provide additional free options if you create accounts and load proprietary software onto the host workstation.”

David, the library director at Saint Xavier University in Chicago and chair of SLA’s Information Technology Advisory Council, reviews two such collaborative tools, Join.me and Screenleap, noting the advantages and limitations of each. Both, he concludes, show promise for providing remote support and meeting the needs of special librarians and their customers.

“Join.me and Screenleap can provide effective (and free) virtual support at a distance,” he writes. “They also allow for a basic level of shared, collaborative work, although they may not scale up to create effective, dynamic large-group scenarios. Try them and see when and how they can enhance your remote service options.”

To learn more about remote support technologies for special librarians, read David’s article.

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