Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library has joined a group of Upstate New York libraries that offer the Ask Us 24/7 online reference service. Residents can receive assistance from reference librarians even if they can't get to the library in person, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Questions are answered by staff at Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library or by any librarian participating in the network of reference librarians.
The service is very easy to use. All you do is click on the 'Ask Us 24/7 button,' and you're on your way, said Sally Gillich, assistant director of technology. "In response to our users' growing use of online resources and internet access, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library has implemented this on-demand reference service. We now provide reference over the Web in addition to the more traditional modes of phone or in-person requests for information. Our reference service spans all hours of the day or night, whether or not the physical library is open. In fact, our library is never closed to people who need information " they just enter through a different door."
The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library provides this reference service through the QuestionPoint service, developed by OCLC Online Computer Library Center, the Library of Congress and the 24/7 Reference Cooperative. In addition to providing access to librarians 24 hours a day, the service also includes a global network of cooperating libraries that work together to provide authoritative answers to reference questions, according to information from the library. If Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library staff members are unable or unavailable to answer a question, it can be sent to experts at another library, even if those experts are across the country or around the world.
"Just think about all the possibilities," said Gillich. "If you have a question about London, you could actually get your answer from an expert in London."
Anyone who needs help finding information may submit questions through a link on the library's Web site, www.cphlibrary.org.