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Purdue Libraries’ Ask a Librarian service expands online chat

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University Libraries has expanded a feature of its “Ask a Librarian” service, making it more user-friendly to those seeking quick answers on library services.

Patrons are now able to chat with library staff directly from the Libraries’ home page at http://www.lib.purdue.edu/. The interface appears in the lower left corner of the page underneath Quick Links and Library Links. Chat is available from 6-10 p.m. Sundays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

“The chat provides a quick and efficient way to help library patrons answer any questions they may have about research or Purdue Libraries services,” said Matt Bejune, assistant professor of library science and digital reference services coordinator. “Their questions can be about many things including research, personal interests, homework, and/or campus assistance. We’re trying to provide the same type of services a person would normally have to visit a library to receive.”

Purdue Libraries launched the Ask a Librarian service in March 2003. Since then, Libraries’ staff members have answered more than 13,000 questions, and during a typical month they answer between 250 and 350. The new chat box has received about 100 hits since it was launched in early February, indicating that more people are using the service, said Bejune, who oversees the Libraries’ digital reference services.

Patrons also can submit questions to Ask a Librarian via e-mail, which typically takes one to two days for a question to get answered, in-person, and by phone.

A self-service section includes frequently asked questions, quick reference, library hours, research guides, tutorials and technical support.

In addition to Purdue Libraries’ home page, Ask a Librarian also is available on each individual library’s home page. When the chat service is closed, questions are routed to e-mail.

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