Instant messaging (IM) software

From HLWIKI Canada
Jump to: navigation, search
An example of Google Talk
Are you interested in contributing to HLWIKI International contact:

To browse other articles on a range of HSL topics, see the A-Z index.


Last Update

  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, July 2017


See also Citation management | LibGuides from Springshare | Social media | Subject librarian 2.0 | Twitter | Web 2.0

Instant messaging & engagement software are used to communicate with others online in real-time via short, rapid text messages delivered on personal computers or mobiles. IMing has evolved into a central activity for collaboration in organizations; it supports informal near-synchronous communication and fosters awareness of the online presence of others. IM tools provide options for librarians who want to communicate with users by embedding free and open source clients on subject guides, websites and blogs. IM tools provide a good counterpoint to Facebook and Twitter, both of which function as communication and social presence tools. A critical part of instant messaging tools is their usage on devices such as the iPhone and iPad. There is increased need for librarians to find reliable, embeddable clients to communicate with colleagues, friends and library users. In addition, enterprise 2.0 instant messaging clients are available that can be used within organizations for private IM chat.

Typical features of IM tools

Most IM programs provide these features:

  • Instant messages permit message-sending with an online friend
  • Chat allows two or more friends or co-workers to create chat rooms
  • Web link-sharing and exchange
  • Video link-sharing and face-to-face chat with friends
  • Image sharing stored on your computer
  • Sound sharing for your friends
  • File sharing by sending directly to friends
  • Talk over the Internet instead of phone to talk with friends
  • Streaming content in real-time or near-real-time
  • Mobile capabilities to send instant messages from your cell phone

Kuber and Wright (2012) describe a novel approach to instant messaging by utilizing gestural and Brain Computer Interface (BCI) input to replace some of the missing emotional cues, with the aim of augmenting the IM experience.

Adium (Mac)

Adium is a free, open source instant messaging client for Mac OS X that supports a wide variety of services: IRC, Twitter, Apple MobileMe, Novel Groupwise and other lesser-known services. As an OS tool, everyone can contribute to its improvement ( There is support for each different IM service (see full list[1])


Brosix allows you to send text messages to your contacts securely and easily. All messages sent via Brosix are encrypted and secured, and support is provided for offline messages as well. When sending text messages to someone not online, that user will receive the message as soon as he/she logs into Brosix. The program makes it possible to browse web sites with others by sharing the same view of the screen. Brosix' screen sharing allows you to share your screen with your colleague or friend or request to view his screen. There are four types of Brosix screen-sharing: send your screen to a contact; send your screen to a contact and allow him to work with your mouse and keyboard; view your contact’s screen; view your contact’s screen and work with his mouse and keyboard. Brosix Whiteboard aims to help users express his ideas in drawing. It allows you to visualize and collaborate with someone in real time. Whether you are getting ideas or pointing out features of library databases, the Whiteboard feature can be useful.


Digsby is a program that builds one combined buddy list for all your AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber, and Facebook Chat Accounts. It allows you to manage multiple conversations with tabbed conversation windows; drag tabs into their own windows for important conversations. Digsby is useful for multitasking while chatting; minimize the window and see popups of new messages. Reply at the popup and get back to what you were doing. The program provides a way to log conversation history and find information you need with the search-enabled log viewer. Both moderators and participants can remain anonymous for teaching sessions.


Empathy is a messaging program which supports text, voice, and video chat and file transfers over many different protocols. You can tell it about your accounts on all those services and do all your chatting within one application. Empathy uses Telepathy for protocol support and has a user interface based on Gossip. Empathy is the default chat client in current versions of GNOME, making it easier for other GNOME applications to integrate collaboration functionality using Telepathy.


With Imo you can talk to your friends on any IM network and join the imo network to make new friends. Currently supported networks include MSN, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook, AIM/ICQ, Jabber, MySpace, Hyves, VKontakte and Steam.


Iwantim is a web messenger that boasts a simple approach and set up to engagement software. With iwantIM, you don't need to download and install software on your computer or mobile device. It takes less memory and CPU power, and yet can support multiple logins. The user interface is simple and has acceptable performance standards. Users can synch with the most popular messengers (Google talk, MSN, ICQ, etc.). You can also make audio/video calls to have easier communication with your friends.


LibChat and LibAnswers streamlines your reference services in one easy-to-use format, and provides opportunities for patrons to connect and get answers. It also acts as a place to answer questions and collect statistics. LibAnswers' customizable widgets combine knowledge base searching (with auto suggest), real-time chat (LibChat), and question submission form all in one simple widget. LibChat also has one-click widget integration into LibGuides.

Embed chat widgets for individual librarians or department queues on any webpage and patrons can chat with you wherever they are, on any device. LibChat isn't Flash-based, so it works on all smartphones and tablets. With the program fully integrated into the LibAnswers workflow, librarians get notifications of incoming questions, emails, and TXT messages right in the librarian chat window. Full chat statistics and transcripts are also included.

Library H3Ip

Libraryh3lp is an open-source, multioperator instant messaging system. It aims to simplify your Ask a Librarian (, Text a Librarian (, and IM a Librarian ( virtual reference services by combining them in a single interface. With LibraryH3lp, pick and choose the communication channels that work best for your library. The library chat software offers seamless staffing and transfer of chats between librarians. See the instructional videos to switch from Meebo: and

Miranda IM

Miranda IM is a multi-protocol instant messaging client for Windows. Very light on system resources and fast, Miranda IM requires no installation and can be made to fit on a USB drive. Miranda features a plugin-based framework and boasts over 350 plugins making it one of the most flexible and customizable messaging clients.

Mosio for Libraries

Mosio for Libraries was developed specifically for libraries by taking an award-winning questions and answers technology and consulting with over 1,000 librarians to find out what would make it useful, accessible and affordable for libraries to use. Ask for a quote


OBCIDIO is a dynamic new way to communicate, connect and share content both internally with coworkers and externally through real-time social collaboration tools. It provides secure, real-time social communication, file sharing and project management tools allowing seamless collaboration with both your internal and external networks. Communicate and share with coworkers on a private social network; connect with vendors, partners and other professionals. Generate crowd-sourcing feedback and stay in the loop on recent news, events, product launches and more.


QuestionPoint is a unique virtual reference service, supported by a global network of cooperating libraries, and an infrastructure of software tools. QuestionPoint is a source of unique knowledge resources built by a collaborative network of member libraries. It is customizable as staff can remain anonymous, and a librarian can set up how much information users need to share in order to chat. See librarian training here:


Zoho has multiple IM services that can access Google, Facebook, Yahoo, MSN, AIM, ICQ, MySpace & Jabber IMs all at one place. Zoho allows for conference chatting with contacts from multiple IM networks. Zoho includes a program called Shoutbox that can be embedded on a blog or website to interact with others. The program is useful for open collaboration among students; live and group chatting are available so that users can group contacts based on different criteria. Zoho allows mobile access to stay connected using any mobile client which supports Jabber/XMPP protocol. Zoho also offers a "share your desktop feature" that allows you to share your computer screen with anyone.

Other IM & talk tools


Personal tools