ChiliFresh, a company that provides Review Engine that can be integrated into any online catalog or discovery interface, has added a new optional component to its product that layers on a full social network centered on reading and library activities. It has introduced a Facebook app and offers a free Reference Desk Chat utility.
The ChiliFresh core Review Engine relies on library users to set up an account and compose reviews of books and other materials, which are then available to other users. Aggregating across all the patrons associated with the libraries that subscribe, ChiliFresh is able to achieve a critical mass of engagement beyond what any individual library might generate. The ChiliFresh Connections service enables patrons to extend their accounts with profiles that reflect their interests and reading activities. Once a patron has established a profile, she or he can follow others with related interests, participate in chat rooms, book clubs, or discussion groups. Connections also allows participants to create lists of items in virtual bookshelves that can be shared within the applications and from external blogs or social networks. ChiliFresh Connections bears some conceptual resemblance to BiblioCommons, but layers these social features onto the library's existing online catalog.
In February 2012, ChiliFresh released an app that provides libraries with the ability to offer their online catalog from within Facebook. The ChiliFresh Facebook app supports many different ILS online catalog products, including Polaris, SirsiDynix Enterprise, Koha, and Evergreen. The app provide basic catalog search features, naturally including display of ChiliFresh reviews and other enhanced content, as well as the ability for patrons to sign in to their personal library account and request holds, renew items, view lists of currently charged items, and other selfservice tasks. Patrons can also share any item viewed from the catalog on their Facebook Timeline.
ChiliFresh has also taken advantage of libraries ongoing interest in chatbased services and the sudden absence of Meebo. Beginning in June 2012, shortly after Google's announcement of its plans to discontinue Meebo, ChileFresh announced that it would offer a free Reference Desk Chat utility. A library that subscribes to the ChiliFresh Connections can activate the Reference Desk Chat service by placing the supplied code snippet on its website, online catalog, or other components within its Web presence.