Baron-Forness Library
200 Tartan Drive
Edinboro, PA 16444
(814) 732-2273

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IMALibrarian - Instant Messaging Reference Service

Many times students are unable to get to the library to work with a librarian directly. Through instant messaging, you can now "speak" with a librarian to get the assistance you need. You may also wish to visit our Distance Education page for additional tips and suggestions.

What is 'instant messaging?'
Instant Messaging (a.k.a. IM) is a real-time method of sharing information.  It's very much like using a telephone except that you use a computer and a keyboard instead of a telephone to exchange messages. 

How is it different from email?
With email, you have to wait for the recipient of your message to get online, read your message, and respond.  With IM, the recipient of your message is logged-on at the same time you are and, as such, can respond immediately. 

What do I need to do?
You don't need any special software.  As long as you have access to the Internet, simply navigate to the library's homepage (or any other library page) and you'll see "Ask a Librarian" to the right.  Simply enter your question in the dialog box and hit ENTER when you're ready to send.  It's that simple.  

What else do I need to know?
There are any of a number of ways to learn how to use IM.  Practice is the best way to learn.  But, Help and FAQ pages available (e.g. AIM site) on the internet are a great way to learn more as well.

When is the service available?
We refer to our IM Reference Assistance service as IMALibrarian or Ask a Librarian.  Whenever classes are in session, the service is available whenever a librarian is on-duty as outlined in the table below.  If you are unable to reach a librarian or if you need assistance at another time, please stop by the Information Desk, call 814-732-2253, or email us at



Mondays - Thursdays

9:00 a.m. - 9:45 p.m.


9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.


9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


1:00 p.m. - 9:45 p.m.
(except 5:00-6:00 p.m.)

What kinds of assistance can I get?

IM reference is really no different than the in-person services we provide.  As such, among other things, we can work with you on topic development, help you to identify some resources you might want to explore for information, provide basic instruction to help get you started, and, of course, answer questions you might have about a topic.

Who can get assistance?
Anyone with access to the internet can use this service. However, as with other networked services, IM is governed by numerous University policies as well as State and Federal laws. With that in mind, we reserve the right to refuse service to individuals who use rude, offensive, or suggestive language, who repeatedly attempt to engage library faculty in personal rather than professional discussions, and/or who attempt to use this service in a way which violates any local, University, State, and/or Federal law or statute.  Please note that your online reference interaction may be logged for quality assurance.

What's New: