Although I was fairly familiar with the tools listed on this thing, it was good to stop and think about them from a library perspective. I love email as both a personal and business tool. It's so easy to send a quick message or question to someone while you are thinking about it and gives the receiver the ability to respond at their leisure. I have several patrons who contact me regularly with questions in this manner and most of my day to day communication with staff at the regional level takes this form.
Personally, I prefer instant messaging as a business communication tool. Our library does not offer an IM reference service, but I think it could be a great addition for a place with enough staff to support it. I've generally had very positive experiences with online IM help desks from a user standpoint. However, IM is not a tool that I choose to use to communicate casually with friends; I would rather pick up the phone than log on to the computer when at home. The few times I've chatted online with strangers in a casual environment I've felt it to be a surreal experience and didn't have any interest in getting to know those strangers better when it was over.
Text messaging was the one item I hadn't tried before. (I don't own a cell phone). However, the daughter of one of my friends gave me a tutorial lesson in this technology. The most intimidating part of using this service is all the acronyms; however, the webinar I viewed gave a helpful site for translating the terms (go to http://www.transl8it.com); the best part of this site is that it will not only start from the chat or text lingo, but also translates from "regular" english to txt. The best application I can see for this tool in a public library is not reference but notification of patrons that they have books ready to be picked up.
Web conferencing is a tool that I have mixed feelings about. I guess I could sum it up best by saying that it works okay, but there has to be a better way to accomplish the same thing. It definitely makes it easier for lots of diverse people to attend a training or informational session without travel, allows sessions to be saved and viewed later, and usually does a fair job of getting across the information (generally this success is more on the part of the presenter than the format). On the down side, if people are listening by phone, there is often a lot of background noise and sometimes lag time on the Internet makes a verbal/visual mismatch which can be frustrating. I did look at both the offerings on OPAL and Minitex and chose to watch a saved Minitex session - "R U Ready - Setting Up and Running IM Reference". If anyone out there is interested in the basics of IM Reference, it was definitely a good starting point. I thought it well worth the time simply to get the transl8it site mentioned above.