Even though the librarian who I talked to did not work at my county library, she helped me find exactly what I needed.
Fast, helpful, easy to use, friendly… I can always count on it!
I am very grateful for this option because it has helped me to complete my homework and projects when I really needed help.
What are the benefits?
- It’s free to participate
- Expanded service hours for most libraries and organizations
- Positive return on small investment of staff hours
- Centralized coordination and training: you don’t have to provide administrative or technical support
- Reaching new users and bringing them into the library or organizations
- Collaboration with other libraries, educators, and Maryland organizations
- Professional development for service providers, including training opportunities for CEUs
How do our partners provide Maryland AskUsNow!?
Service to our customers is provided by AskUsNow!-trained staff from our partner institutions. Maryland AskUsNow! participates in an international cooperative called QuestionPoint, a service of OCLC. Participation in this network allows us to use QuestionPoint’s chat and e-mail tools. It also allows us to have librarians and information providers available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the global cooperative and back-up staffing.
The Maryland AskUsNow! grant covers the cost of our QuestionPoint contract. No fees are charged to our partner libraries and organizations.
Maryland AskUsNow! partner libraries and organizations provide coverage of a regular weekly schedule. Our special libraries and organizations can participate in chat, but mostly provide service in their area of expertise by responding to questions via follow-up or through an email web form.
What are the partners’ responsibilities?
There is no fee to participate. Libraries and organizations contribute to the cooperative by staffing designated hours of service. Current staffing availability and expected usage are considered when determining an appropriate schedule. The standard minimum contribution is five hours of chat coverage from one organization each week. Academic partner libraries cover at least a quarter of their weekly schedule on both the “academic” and “public” Maryland queues.
Maryland AskUsNow! partner library systems and organizations return a signed Letter of Intent to Partner, which promises at least one full year of active participation and provision of service. This letter is signed by the library or organization’s director and sent to the Maryland AskUsNow! Project Coordinator. Continued active participation and provision of service is assumed to continue after the first year unless other arrangements are communicated to the project coordinator.
By participating in this project, partner libraries and organizations:
- Appoint a Project Liaison to represent the institution
- Provide coverage of an assigned service schedule, based on what your particular library or organization can reasonably contribute
- Identify staff to provide service and have them participate in necessary training
- Add a standardized branded link to AskUsNow! on the library’s or organization’s home page.
What are the responsibilities of the project liaison?
- Represents the partner library system at statewide meetings and joins the MDASKUSNOW e-mail listserv
- Reports local training and scheduling needs to the project coordinator
- Maintains service quality by monitoring local performance data, including session transcripts and referrals
- Maintains local scheduling and arranges for substitutes as necessary
- Maintains the currency of local library/organization information used by the cooperative
- Contributes enthusiasm and energy to make the project a success!
What are the next steps to participate?
Return the completed Letter of Intent to Partner to:
Statewide Project Coordinator
Office Phone: 443-984-4955
You will have the opportunity to discuss:
- The project’s history
- Technical requirements
- An appropriate schedule
- A date and location for the statewide coordinator to provide training with your staff
- Partner library online resources and marketing strategies
Who do I contact?
Any questions about the service may be directed to:
Public Libraries and State Networking Branch Chief
AskUsNow! Grant Supervisor
Division of Library Development and Services Maryland State Department of Education
Office phone: 410-767-0444