Are You Ready for the Microsoft Lync Revolution?

Have you ever received a call from a partner unable to find a resource or register his user information?  Despite trying your best to describe what you are seeing on your computer screen, the partner is unable to follow along as you explain where to find the resource or register his user information.  You grow more and more frustrated as the partner does the exact opposite of what you told him to do and he grows increasingly agitated as he continues to waste time trying to find a resource or log-in. Have you wished in that moment of anguish for a way to get inside the partner’s computer and see what he was describing? Well, wish no more because the Microsoft Lync revolution is here and it will transform legal reference in your library.

Microsoft Lync is a unified communications platform that works on Windows 8 and other operating platforms including mobile platforms. Although Lync was not developed with libraries in mind, the technology is tailor-made for a profession that relies on communication and customer service. Some of the key features of Lync that translate well to librarianship include real-time instant messaging and desktop sharing.  Instant messaging through Lync allows for more fluid and natural communication with other library staff and patrons.  Desktop sharing can be used for patron orientation, training, and troubleshooting.

In my experience, most of us are visual learners. Before Lync became available at my firm, training and orientation meant going over a PowerPoint presentation or describing how to access and use an online resource by phone. Very often, I would question whether the patron was actually following along at all. Now, through desktop sharing, the patron is able to see everything I’m describing.  Another excellent feature of Lync is the ability to share presenter control with the patron. After training an administrative assistant on Courtlink, I gave her presenter control of my desktop and asked her to create a sample search to help reinforce what she learned.  In situations where a patron is experiencing a technical problem or difficulty registering for a website, screen sharing has been invaluable. I have used Lync to walk attorneys through registering for Lexis Advance and troubleshooting website issues or errors.  Instant messaging has allowed me to communicate in a conversational manner with library staff in other offices while cutting down on emails and phone calls.

As a provider of reference services, Lync has freed me from any physical limits. I have the ability to train and assist someone in our Los Angeles office as if I were looking over his or her shoulder. Despite the amazing things I’ve been able to accomplish using Lync, I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of its uses. Imagine holding an online brainstorming session with co-workers in other cities or hosting a webinar – these are capabilities that Lync provides its users. There has been much discussion in our community of the need for librarians to break out of the physical library and reach out to patrons.  By adopting Microsoft Lync, law librarians can truly tell patrons that the library is not a location, but a service that is always around them.