Tag Archives: Digital reference

Skype (Brenda Dyck)

What is Skype?

Skype is an online communications tool that allows people to have face to face conversations over the internet from anywhere in the world.  You can download the Skype software for free and, if you are calling another Skype user, all your calls are free.  Skype also offers free voice calling, instant messaging and file sharing between Skype users. 

Libraries are making Skype available for patron use at the computers in the library along with all the other internet services.  Many reference departments are using Skype to field virtual reference questions as seeing the patrons’ facial cues and body language enables a service interaction which more closely emulates an in-person interaction.  It is not always successful as some patrons don’t want visual contact but bears further investigation as programs are tested and revised. It has also proven to be an effective time-saving and cost-cutting tool for staff and trustee training and development.   The ALA News recently posted an article about offering professional consultations using Skype.  Virtual author visits for authors of both children’s and adult literature are gaining popularity as an economical option during times of budgetary restraint.

How do I get set up?

All you need to get set up is a computer with a microphone and speakers, a webcam and an internet connection.  Click here to download the free software.  Your computer may ask you if you want to allow this program to run.  It’s ok to say yes.   After the program downloads, you can set up your account.  Skype can be used on computers, tablets and smartphones.

new skype


You can chose to sign up with your Facebook or your Microsoft accounts.  Doing this will import your email contacts and friends lists.  To keep the process a little simpler as you get started, you may decide to create your account with just your email address.  Once your account is set up, you can fine-tune your privacy settings.

OK, I’m signed up…now what?

Now you can start talking!  This helpful video will guide you through your first call.

It’s as simple as that and all for free.  It sounds too good to be true but it isn’t.  As long as you are making a Skype-to-Skype call, there is no cost, regardless of how long you are talking or where you are calling.  You can find friends and family that are also using Skype by searching their name, their Skype name or their email.

new skype a

The Skype website has an excellent support section that has answers and solutions for any questions or difficulties you may encounter.

skype support

It’s no surprise that Skype has millions of users worldwide.  The no-cost service combined with the minimal hardware requirements and the ease of use has made it an essential part of daily communication.  Last year, it saved our trustees time and aggravation as our library board interviewed extensively during our CEO search.  We used Skype to connect with candidates on both coasts and in the United States.  Using Skype eliminated travel time for the candidates and the expense of travel for both the candidates and the board.  In fact, the board came in dramatically under-budget at the end of the successful CEO search and this was very well received by town council.  And while the board has a strict attendance policy, we have used Skype to reach quorum for a critical board meeting when one of the members was recuperating from surgery and couldn’t physically attend.

Remember to blog about your experience with Skype and share your thoughts on how you feel it could benefit your library.

Take it further…

Make an appointment to have a Skype chat with a librarian at Edgewood College

Add Shaun for your first Skype contact  ADD SHAUN TO SKYPE – Cake and beverage available (prayingforoneday.wordpress.com). 

If you would like to know more, check out the following links…

Skype Your Mayor: Ukrainian Library Hosts Online Town Hall








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