Ask a Librarian

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Ask a Librarian[1] is Florida's Statewide Collaborative Live Virtual reference Service. It began as a partnership between the College Center for Library Automation (CCLA) and the Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC). Ask a Librarian was funded initially in 2002-2003 with Library services and technology act LSTA funds as a pilot project of the Florida Electronic Library. Ask a Librarian is currently an official service of the Florida Electronic Library.

The service was activated on July 28, 2003. Ask a Librarian currently has 95 participating libraries, including public libraries, Library consortia, four state universities, and all 28 of Florida's community colleges. On August 19 2007, Ask a Librarian answered Its 100,000th question. As of January 1, 2008, Ask a Librarian has logged over 78,000 live virtual reference sessions and over 38,000 e-mail questions.

The service provides all of Florida's citizens with live virtual reference services via local library customized web sites from 10 am to Midnight Sunday through Thursday, and from 10 am to 5 pm Friday and Saturday.

Participating libraries utilize the software to provide local live virtual reference services to their patrons. An e-mail form is available to patrons 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. All e-mail is answered by the local library.

Ask a Librarian Mobile (www.askalibrarian.org/mobile or www.askalibrarian.org/m), with email-only reference optimized for mobile devices, and Ask a Librarian iPhone (www.askalibrarian.org/iphone or www.askalibrarian.org/i), with Live Chat and email reference optimized for Apple iPhone, debuted in January 2008.

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