Increase Seen in Number "Ask The Librarian" Questions
Serving library users has become a priority in all academic libraries, and most have responded by offering some sort of "virtual" reference service. The Weinberg Memorial Library began its e-mail reference service, called "Ask A Librarian," in December, 2000. Initially, the service saw little activity, which likely was due to the location of the link. However, since the link was moved at the beginning of last fall semester to the Electronic Indexes page, one of the more frequently accessed library's web pages, "Ask A Librarian" has seen a significant increase in the number of requests. In fact, 69% of all requests since the service commenced have occurred in the fall semester, 2001.
Although the service is available to those outside the University of Scranton community, the majority of requests (72%) do come from our own students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Of the questions, roughly 41% have been concerned with the individual's specific research problem, 30% with access to electronic resources (remote server, passwords, etc.), 16% with library policy (renewals, fines, etc.), and 13% with the library's resources and holdings (books, journals, etc.).
"Ask A Librarian" is a good option for those library users who don't require an immediate answer, or who don't want to or can't phone the Reference Desk directly, and for after-hours requests; questions are generally answered within 24 hours or less. Hopefully, as word of mouth about the usefulness of the service spreads and it is publicized more, "Ask A Librarian" will continue to see an increase in the number of library users being served.
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