Some members of the Clark Library team are piloting a remote reference service starting in January 2012. If your work primarily involves digital information this may be a good option to consider. You can meet with a consultant from the comfort of your office or any other place you have a computer with a good internet connection.
Nicole Scholtz is currently the only librarian offering these consultations, and she offers assistance with finding and using geospatial data, using ArcGIS and QuantumGIS software, and advanced uses of Excel.
Google Hangouts screensharing technology only allows the participants to view each others' screens; it does NOT give any participant control of another participant's computer. You do not need a webcam or microphone for screensharing, although a microphone and speakers or headphones can be useful.
To meet remotely with a consultant, you will first set up Google Hangouts and then make an appointment:
1) Activate Google Plus on your Google Umich account. If you do not have a Google Umich account, you can use another Gmail account. If you do not have any sort of Google Umich or Gmail account, see note below.
Screensharing is not available in Hangouts on accounts that do not have Google Plus activated. To activate Google Plus, log into your Google Umich email, and then click on the +[YourName] link all the way on the left, on the black bar at the top of the screen. You will fill out some information if you have not done this before. This does not obligate you to use Google Plus in any way. (Google Plus is a Facebook-like social media platform.)
2) Make an appointment with the consultant via email or phone. If you have a phone number at which you will be available, please provide that in case technical problems make connecting difficult, or if we have audio problems.
3) Accept the invitation to chat from the consultant. In order to participate in a Google Hangout with someone, they must already be in your "invited to chat" category of contacts. The consultant will initiate this, and you just need to look for an email or notification about the invitation. This can be done at the time of the appointment, too.
4) (Optional) Test screensharing with a friend. Do this from whatever computer you plan to have the consultation from. E.g., that might be from a Sites computer that has GIS software as well, because you'll want to share your screen to get help troubleshooting a problem in GIS. If from a non-centrally-managed computer, you may have to install browser plugins in order to make this work. Google's Chrome browser will work best with Google Hangouts.
5) At the time of your appointment, be logged into your Google Umich or Gmail account, and wait for the Google Hangout invitation from the consultant.
Other options are available for doing screen sharing, if Google Hangouts is not working for you. Contact the consultant to determine what other options could work.