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Thanks to all who responded to my original posting:   "Do any of you provide
online Ask a Librarian service for your students and staff, via either email
or live chat?"

Responses follow:
--Not at this time, but it sounds like an excellent idea that I might try.

--The State Library of NJ  offers one at  I hope I
got the URL right. It is offered 24/7.

--Students can e-mail me either the faculty page or the library page.  Few
ever do.

--I have an "ask a librarian" email form on my website but it hasn't been
used extensively.  But I like the idea of it being there!

--We have a statewide service called Ask Colorado to which teachers and
students can send reference questions and get answers via email.  The
service is available 24/7, and is staffed by volunteers from libraries all
over the state.  The deep night hours are staffed by a company who contracts
with the state.  If you need additional information, contact Brenda
Bailey-Hainer at the state library  She is the
Director of Networking and Resource Sharing for Colorado.

----After being denied the opportunity to create a library blog site, I
setting up this type of system on my library's webpage--- I had just created
a single page to "Make A Suggestion" could be anything, including:

    *  asking a question
    *  making a comment
    *  making a request (book, video, materials)
    *  making a complaint

I had everything set-up ready to go....but the technology department nixed
it.  The system is locked down so tight, we would have to open some areas of
the server and they didn't want to do that (and I was told by others later
that they had looked into doing something like this for the whole school but
didn't want to offer this type of program because..."it causes
problems")...???  So, it's a dead project.

In the meantime, I continue telling my students to send me emails (using my
school email address that I can access from home), if they have problems
with something library-related during the day or in the evening at their
home.  I have had several who take advantage of the opportunity to ask
questions about the databases, books, and even homework assignments;
however, I discovered just before the holiday break (when a student was
having a problem with an assignment before finals) that the students are not
allowed (or are discouraged from contacting the teachers).  One student
said, "You're the only teacher who has told us we can contact them at home
through the school's email.  We've been told that we aren't allowed to email
or phone the teachers to ask questions if they are at home."

(This is the first time I'd heard of this....and it's not like I'm teaching
in an asphalt jungle--this is a private school!)  I'm not sure if this is a
perception or the truth--perhaps an unwritten rule--but I've never NOT had
students contact me as a librarian or a teacher, so this is a real
frustration.  I realize that there are issues related to privacy, but by
putting a webpage out there, I had hoped to break down some barriers for
students to get help from at least the librarian!

--Wow--we couldn't wait to use this avenue for kids to contact us.  This
we extended the privilege to 7's (we're k-12). I have had kids e-mail me
even in the summer, especially about databases.  I understand privacy
issues, but a teacher who doesn't care to be contacted by email can let her
kids know that. I love it when kids take the initiative to ask me--they know
I'll answer, and I don't care what time it is when they write! (Maybe we
were happy to supply this service because in the past parents/kids have
occasionally called us at home. Most folks I know would definitely choose
email over that!) It would be interesting to poll the teachers at your
school to see how they feel about it.

--Our district tells teachers not to use personal emails with students or
parents.  Every teacher is given a free district email to use.

Again, thanks to all who responded!  I am seeing 24/7 Ask a Librarian
service, either via email or chat, available in many public and university
library settings.  Your responses tell me that it may be coming to us in
K-12 as well :-)


Audrey P. Church
Coordinator, School Library Media Program
Longwood University
201 High Street,  Hull 234
Farmville, VA  23909
Phone: 434.395.2682
Fax: 434.395.2148

"Advocacy Begins With You!"

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