Thursday, June 9, 2011


So just what is "Ask-a-Librarian" anyway? "Ask-a-Librarian" is a service that many information organizations provide which allows their patrons to contact library personnel electronically with their questions. Some services like this use email to communicate, while others use instant messaging, text-messaging, and telephones. For the student or professional on the go, this type of service can be especially helpful when you have questions to ask, but no time to physically visit a library for the answers. There are many "Ask-a-Librarian" services out there, representing public libraries, academic libraries, and even virtual or digital library organizations. Here is a short review of a few of my favorite "Ask-a-Librarian" services:

1. Lewis Library's "Ask-a-Librarian"
For those who aren't aware of it, Lewis Library has an "Ask-a-Librarian" link on the library main page. Students and faculty of the college can use this link at any time of any day to ask librarians questions about the searching for and locating items in the library's collection. This link will send an email of your question(s) to the librarians, whether they are on or off duty. If you have ever used the "Ask-a-Librarian" service before, you know that questions are answered very promptly, saving you time and a trip to the library!
Visit Lewis Library's Website:
Use Lewis Library's "Ask-a-Librarian" Service:

2. IPL2's "Ask-a-Librarian"
In addition to our library's "Ask-a-Librarian" service, there are many similar services available to you online through other sites. For those who are not students or faculty of LaGrange College (or even for those who are!) IPL2's "Ask-a-Librarian" is another great service that is prompt with responding and totally free to use. IPL2 is operated mostly by graduate students studying to become librarians (like myself!), or by librarians who enjoy volunteering their time to answer questions from people like you. IPL2 also has a nice form to fill out when submitting your questions which aid in organizing your thoughts and letting librarians on the other end know how urgent your questions are, and if they are for school-related assignments.
Visit IPL2's Website:
Complete an IPL2 "Ask-a-Librarian" form:

3. Florida State University's "Ask us Now"
As a current graduate student studying library science through FSU, the FSU library's "Ask-a-Librarian" service is one of the very best! Being a distance learning student, it is one of my only means of communicating with librarians at my college library. From the FSU library home-page you can easily access this service via the "Ask us Now" button on the left-hand side of their site. Librarians are available most of the time, as is indicated by the "Available" note just above the button. The "Ask Us Now" button will automatically take you into a real-time live-chat session with an FSU librarian using an instant messaging service. If you are not comfortable with live-chat, there is a link just below the "Ask Us Now" button that says "More Ways To Ask" and will give you other options, such as emailing, calling, or Skype-ing! Unlike many smaller college's or universities, you do not need to be an FSU student to use this service (a fact I just verified using the "Ask Us Now" live-chat myself!). It is free to all! I highly recommend this particular service for students who are both in search of scholarly information and resources AND those who need the information A.S.A.P.
Visit FSU Library's Website:

4. Florida's Virtual Reference Service's "Ask-a-Librarian"
The state of Florida has their own virtual reference service that provides more instant communication options for people with urgent questions. AND you don't need to live in the state of Florida to take advantage of this free and helpful service. Although more geared towards the general public, librarians who respond to this site's questions can still provide scholarly sources for you if you clearly state that the question relates to a school assignment. This service provides an instant-messaging chat service with librarians on the spot, in addition to a texting service.
Visit Florida's Virtual Reference Service:

5. ChaCha's "Questions & Answers"
Do you have a quick question? For short & fast answers, use ChaCha! This service is available online at ChaCha's website, or by texting the ChaCha number. A bit like the IPL2's service, ChaCha is operated by a wide variety of "volunteers" who are standing by to answer you questions immediately! Text message questions to ChaCha are usually answered in less than 2 minutes, and ChaCha doesn't charge any extra fees for the text service. However, this service is only for short questions. More in depth, school-assignment type questions should be directed to one of the other services listed above, since they have the ability to conduct lengthier, more thorough searches, and to provide you with scholarly resources as opposed to quick facts. Also keep in mind, that out of all the services listed above, this is the only service that does not have real librarians working for them, but rather people of all types and walks-of-life.
Visit ChaCha's Website:
OR ask ChaCha a question from your mobile phone: TEXT 242-242 (Cha-Cha))

Now you can rest easy knowing your questions can be answered
even if you can't make it to a library!

1 comment:

  1. And, if you're in one of the EBSCO databases on GALILEO like Academic Search Complete, or Business Source Complete, you can post a question directly to our Librarians with the "Ask a Librarian" button in the upper right, next to the "Help" button. We're not on 24/7, but we usually get back to you pretty quickly.
    Mary Lou Dabbs
    Electronic Resources Librarian