In response to my post about IM widgets at dead ends, Brian Herzog offers a great example of using a greasemonkey script to provide an email door out of the “no search results” page of his catalog. Since his library doesn’t offer IM reference, this is the next best thing to inserting a librarian back into the search process.
Because greasemonkey only works with Firefox, users of other browsers won’t see the form, but that’s why there’s an email address at the top. Could this be used with databases, as well? Probably only if the vendor lets you customize the code on that page.
Hardy programmer types with full access to the backend of their catalog could add an HTML form to level the playing field in that respect.
Or, vendors could provide this type of functionality as part of the default system and the library could just specify where the email should go on a settings screen. There could also be a box to embed code for instant messaging widgets for libraries that offer IM help.