Virtual reference has become an important component of library service today and one that can bolster a library's effectiveness and visibility as an information provider. To help WNYLRC member libraries and library systems implement virtual reference, WNYLRC's Regional Advisory Committee oversees a regional virtual reference service called AskUs247.org using OCLC's QuestionPoint chat software (formerly 24/7 Reference). Funding to support marketing materials and QuestionPoint subscription costs is provided through RBDB grant money as well as participation fees from libraries providing desk time to the service for their patrons. Is your library participating?
Libraries interested in joining the service can contact Caitlin Kenney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-633-0705, ext. 115.
Benefits: When compared to providing virtual reference services on their own, libraries have found that it is far less costly and requires less staff hours to participate in the regional Ask Us 24/7 service.
Computer workstation requirements:
Ask Us 24/7 is a project of the Western New York Library Resources Council and owes its success to all the participating member libraries and New York 3Rs Councils who have made this cooperative venture a reality. Participating members are listed at http://www.askus247.org/info/partlibry.php
Resources for Participating Libraries
Training manuals, scheduling information, and virtual reference resources are available at http://www.askus247.org/librarians/