Ask a Librarian is a virtual reference service that connects students, faculty and researchers from participating libraries with real-time research assistance through chat.
Users are served by librarians and library staff from participating Ontario universities, along with mentees who are current students or recent graduates of Masters-level programs in library or information studies.
For help in French, patrons can use the francophone version of Ask a Librarian, Clavardez avec nos bibliothécaires, a pilot service that launched in 2014.
How does Ask a Librarian work?
Using LivePerson's chat software, library staff members and mentees engage with users to answer library- and research-related questions. During their shifts, Ask a Librarian operators also use an interactive staff space to communicate with each other to coordinate chat transfers and share knowledge when answering questions. When the service is closed, each question entered by a user is automatically routed to their home library's reference inbox.
The service is open 67 hours per week, and multiple operators are scheduled for each shift. Service hours and the number of operators are monitored and adjusted to best meet demand as the service is rolled out to more Ontario university libraries.
The following institutions are currently participating:
University of Guelph
University of Guelph-Humber
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
University of Ottawa
Saint Paul University
University of Toronto - St. George
University of Toronto - Mississauga
University of Toronto - Scarborough
To find out how your library can join Ask a Librarian contact firstname.lastname@example.org.