For 10 years, Ask Us 24/7 has been New York State’s “virtual reference desk,” allowing users to instantly chat with a librarian for research help any time of day, from any location.
In honor of the 10th anniversary year, Ask Us 24/7 will be holding commemorative activities including a series of Facebook posts on the service’s history and a contest for users, culminating in a “birthday” celebration at the New York Library Association conference in Niagara Falls in September. You can follow the activities by “liking” Ask Us 24/7 at www.facebook.com/askus247
The service was started in March of 2003 by the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC). Originally titled “Ask a Western New York Librarian,” it was staffed by seven area libraries. After a few months, the program joined a national cooperative of chatting libraries, allowing participants to offer 24-hour service, and being rebranded as Ask Us 24/7 in September 2003.
Throughout the past 10 years, Ask Us 24/7 has expanded to include participating libraries throughout New York State, now with 8 public library systems, 43 academic libraries, and one school library system. The other library councils in the NY3Rs association have joined WNYLRC in the management of the service. Each library contributes a certain number of hours weekly to staffing the cooperative service, and in return their patrons can access the chat form through their library’s website any time. This gives patrons direct access to a professional reference librarian 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
To find out if your library participates, check out the list at www.askus247.org. Or look for the Ask Us 24/7 logo on your library website.
As of January 1st this year, 173,869 chats have taken place through Ask Us 24/7, with over 100 transactions happening daily. Ask Us 24/7 would like to thank all of the libraries and librarians who have participated over the years, and we look forward to continued collaboration with libraries and patrons.