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The Office of Commonwealth Libraries Seeks Libraries for the Chat with a Librarian Service

The Office of Commonwealth Libraries seeks contributing libraries for the Chat with a Librarian service. 

Chat with a Librarian (formerly known as Ask Here PA) has been providing 24/7/365 live chat reference since 2006, and this service is a core component of the POWER Library. The Chat with a Librarian service has seen a steady increase in usage since 2015 and needs additional staffing support to meet the growing demand for chat reference by the students and residents of Pennsylvania.

Why is Chat with a Librarian so important?  Its benefits extend to users, librarians, and the POWER Library budget – plus, it’s a great way to hone your reference skills and show the “why do we need libraries?” people the power of library professionals!  Check out some of these comments from Chat with a Librarian users:

  • I have learned so many searching tools and tricks that have saved me hours of sorting through websites.
  • My librarian found each of the three articles I needed, in Full-Text, and sent them to me right away.
  • Easy to use at any time of day.
  • I gave my librarian very little information and she found exactly what I needed.

In addition to serving patrons throughout Pennsylvania, Chat with a Librarian offers opportunities for you to serve your own patrons directly, using a local live chat queue and traditional email reference with a professional-quality built-in form builder. Here are comments from librarians contributing staff time:

  • I enjoy knowing I can have an impact on Chat users in a short period of time. I have found most users to be very appreciative–and I’ve learned a lot myself! Lori Rounsville, Director, Hamlin Public Library
  • As a librarian who doesn’t work primarily at a reference desk, participating in Chat has given me the opportunity to answer actual reference questions. I get to remember (and use) all those reference tips and strategies I learned in school, as well as find new resources that I’ve never had to use before. Ed Wolf, Information Technology Librarian, Peters township Public Library

And lastly, increased participation has a direct impact on the cost of providing the service.  So long as PA librarians respond to at least 40% of the questions asked, the POWER Library avoids a 20% surcharge on the annual subscription to the software and participation in the 24/7 chat reference cooperative.  It’s the right thing to do.

The success of this service would not be possible without the efforts of participating public and academic libraries that contribute staff to Chat with a Librarian and I want to extend thanks to those libraries. View the list of libraries and add your name to the list!

If you would like to learn more about Chat with a Librarian and how your library can participate, please, contact HSLC.

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