AskUsNow! Service Guidelines

Maryland AskUsNow! (AskUsNow!) is the statewide virtual reference service that provides chat and email follow-up for Maryland.  The service started as a pilot project between the Baltimore County Public Library and Harford County Public Library, and is currently hosted by the Maryland State Library Resource Center at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.  AskUsNow! went live as a statewide service on March 17, 2003 and have been growing strong since. Much of our success is thanks to the dozens of libraries and hundreds of librarians around the state who provide and support the service. Thank you for your continued support.

AskUsNow! unites the information expertise of librarians, the resources of Maryland's libraries and tomorrow's advanced technology to meet the information needs of Marylanders whenever they need it, wherever they are. AskUsNow! is accessible from http://www.askusnow.info or through the logo, chat form URLs or Qwidgets on a partner library's web site.

These guidelines explain the expectations of the service for liaisons, providers, and administration.

Service Structure

AskUsNow! is a family of over 500 librarians across the state of Maryland representing all types of libraries; academic, public, special, and federal. Maryland AskUsNow! is a project of the Maryland State Library, Maryland State Department of Education, funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The service is run by the Statewide Coordinator and Support for Operations who monitor usage and provide quality control, train staff, head marketing initiatives, grow the service with new partnerships and technology initiatives as well as schedule staff and troubleshoot. Each partner library appoints a Liaison to represent their library with AskUsNow!. The liaison is responsible for attending the quarterly liaison meetings, making sure their staff is up to date on service expectations and information and other duties.

AskUsNow! is provided by trained reference and information services staff at each of the Partner Libraries. While over 500 people have been trained over the years, we currently have about 200 active providers. Without the enthusiasm, dedication and service skills of our providing librarians, AskUsNow! would not be as successful as we are.

Librarians from partner libraries around the state staff the service during regular library hours. Backup and after-hours coverage is provided by OCLC QuestionPoint’s freelance staff as part of the QP service agreement.