​What is Voice Over IP?

Voice Over Internet Protocol is a growing trend across the United States. Basically, VoIP is an internet phone call. Rather than using traditional wireless or phonelines, your voice and picture are transferred over the internet. The interface varies between companies since while Skype pops up in a window on your computer, other VoIP services are actually built into landline phones or a converter box (much like a cable modem) (Skype website).



Skype is perhaps the most popular VoIP service because it is free when calling someone else with Skype. 250 million users worldwide currently use Skype to communicate. Using a microphone and a webcam, people can call each other over the internet through their pop-up instant messagesque browser. They claim that the quality of the calls are even better than traditional landlines. Skype allows you to call people's mobile phones and landlines although a fee is charged for it. Also provided for free, is teleconferencing with up to 9 people and instant messaging, while for a fee you can get voicemail. To ensure security they have encryption on both ends of the phonecall (Skype website, can u skype me).

Applications in Libraries

  • Skype may be installed free on any computer and can be installed on public computers. Specifically many libraries allow families of soldiers to use Skype to reconnect with them to avoid high phone charges (part of the Connecting Families Program in Alabama where 100 libraries are using Skype for this purpose
  • Many libraries have a meet the author session via Skype since it's free. Librarians in school libraries select 2 or 3 kids to ask the questions posed from the class to the author and the other kids watch
  • Teleconferencing book discussions
  • Ask a librarian service via Skype
  • Learning a second language and learning about another country's culture by connecting with people overseas
  • Skype video kiosks set up around town or state so people can ask a librarian
  • Group research and collaboration can be over Skype (pop goes the library, libraries using skype, developing skype based reference).

Libraries Using Skype

Ohio University Library
University of Waterloo
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Problems With Skype

  • Security and delay of service attacks
  • Quality via long distances is often questionable and there is a delay of when you hear the person and see them
  • Can be loud and privacy is a concern for libraries so a separate room may be required
  • Can be intercepted by hackers and prone to privacy issues if there is no firewall or anti-virus software installed on the computer (can u skype me)

Works Cited

  1. Skype Website. (2009). Retrieved from http://skype.2009-get.com/.
  2. Segerstrom, J. (2007). Can u skype me be 4 noon? Information Researcher, 17(4), 3-7.
  3. Brookover, S. (2009). Pop goes the library. Retrieved from http://www.popgoesthelibrary.com/.
  4. Booth, Char. (2008). Developing skype-based reference services. Internet Reference Services Quarterly (online), June 30. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10875300802103684.
  5. Palmer, M. E. (2009). Libraries use skype to keep military families connected. Tuscaloosa News, July 7. Retrieved from http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20090707/news/907069946?Title=Libraries-use-Skype-to-keep-military-families-connected.