Welcome to Ask Us 24/7 - a service of the Empire State Library Network, and its member libraries and library systems. We can find answers to your reference questions and provide information on your local library.
You can access Ask Us 24/7 through your library's website, or by selecting your library below. This helps us to identify policies and resources available to you, because in some cases you will be communicating with a librarian who does not work at your local library.
Ask Us 24/7 is a project of the Western New York Library Resources Council, and owes its success to the participating libraries throughout New York State.
Library not listed? If your library does not participate in Ask Us 24/7, you can still chat by using the widgets to the right of this page. If your library is not listed below or is not located within New York State, then please contact your library directly.
It is the policy of Ask Us 24/7 to protect and respect our users' privacy. Personally-identifying information (such as name and email address) collected about any individual using Ask Us 24/7 is considered confidential and will not be voluntarily published or shared with any other entity. Our Privacy Statement explains why certain information is requested or collected from our users, what we do with this information and how it is stored. Please click on and read the full Privacy Statement as developed by Springshare to understand our policies and practices regarding personal information and our use of session transcripts.
Comments/compliments about Ask Us 24/7 that are made during chats or in surveys may be used for marketing purposes, provided that the comment does not give any personally-identifying information about the patron.
Reference questions that are asked during Ask Us 24/7 chats may also be used for research and marketing purposes, provided that the question does not give any personally-identifying information about the patron.
Virtual reference has become an important component of library service today and one that can bolster a library's effectiveness and visibility as an information provider. To help WNYLRC member libraries and library systems implement virtual reference, WNYLRC's Regional Advisory Committee oversees a regional virtual reference service called Ask Us 24/7 using Springshare's LibAnswers software (formerly 24/7 Reference). Funding to support marketing materials and Springshare subscription costs is provided through RBDB grant money as well as participation fees from libraries providing desk time to the service for their patrons. Is your library participating?
Libraries interested in joining the service can contact Caitlin at the Western New York Library Resources Council.
Benefits: When compared to providing virtual reference services on their own, libraries have found that it is far less costly and requires less staff hours to participate in the regional Ask Us 24/7 service.
Less staffing requirements
Free ongoing training and free promotional materials to publicize the service to their patrons
Use of the state of the art chat and follow-up software for conducting the service (not your ordinary instant messaging)
Sophisticated reporting and statistical tools
Opportunity to directly contribute to the direction and quality of the serivce
Access to subject experts both locally and nationally
Direct links from a participating library's website to the Ask Us 24/7 form for patrons twenty-four hours a day, 7 days per week
All participating libraries pay an annual fee, and contribute a specific number of hours of staffing each week.
For a price quote and staffing requirement, we will need the following information:
Population served (for public libraries) or student FTE (for academic libraries)
Librarian FTE number (similar to student FTE number - this includes the number of full-time librarians, and also counts half-time librarians as .5, etc.)
Total materials budget figure (this includes both print purchases and electronic database subscriptions)
All participating libraries must fill out a policy page for their library to make available to other librarians participating in the service to assist in helping your patrons.
About Ask Us 24/7
About Ask Us 24/7
Ask Us 24/7 is a virtual chat service that connects people with reference librarians. Ask Us 24/7 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. You will not necessarily be chatting with a librarian in your community or even at your library, but you will be chatting with a reference librarian. The librarian who answers your call may be able to help you with questions about your library and will help you find answers to other questions you may have by using a range of Internet sources and specialized databases. If you need assistance specifically from your home library, your question will be referred and a librarian from your home library will get back to you via email.