Monday, September 24, 2007

QuestionPoint: a New Live 24/7 Online Reference Service

The Cuyamaca College Library has recently joined a 24/7 online reference coop called QuestionPoint, a service offered through OCLC (Online Computer Library Center). QuestionPoint is simple to use. Just go to the Cuyamaca College Library website and click on Ask a Librarian: Live 24/7 Online Reference. You will then be asked to fill out a form, before clicking on 'connect.' After that, a librarian from somewhere around the globe will pick up your request and proceed to conduct a live chat session to serve your information needs. Not only can QuestionPoint librarians answer your reference questions on the spot, they also have the ability to 'co-browse' the Internet with you. This means they will be able to show you specific websites and subscription databases, as well as how to use them. Through this feature, you will also have the ability to share Internet resources with remote librarians. For example, Cuyamaca College library users can log in to locally-owned subscription databases, eReference books, and eBooks. From there, the remote librarian will be able to jump in and conduct a mini-lesson on how to use any of these sources. QuestionPoint librarians will also have access to our policy page to help with questions specifically pertaining to the Cuyamaca College Library. Questions that can't completely be answered by remote librarians will be forwarded to a Cuyamaca librarian for follow-up.

This pilot project is being offered by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Learning Resources Cooperative (SDICCCLRC), a consortium of libraries from nine colleges in the San Diego and Imperial Counties region. These libraries have traditionally shared media resources. Now librarians in this group are working together to monitor QuestionPoint for San Diego area users. After hours QuestionPoint's 24/7 cooperative will pick up reference requests. Most 24/7 librarians will answer questions from somewhere in the United States, but students will occasionally encounter a librarian from another country.

So give this service a try and let us know what you think!

Kari Wergeland

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