2018/2019 Maryland AskUsNow! Volunteer Chat Librarians

What is Maryland AskUsNow!?

Maryland AskUsNow! (AskUsNow!), www.askusnow.info, is a free, 24 hours a day/7 days a week, online library chat reference and information service.  AskUsNow! staffs over 200 chat hours/week, and has trained over 500 library staff and volunteers to provide the service since 2003.

Under the supervision of the Statewide Coordinator of Maryland AskUsNow!, volunteers experience the following opportunities:

  • enhance their reference and information service skills.
  • cooperate and collaborate with over 600 libraries that are members of the QuestionPoint, 24/7 Cooperative Reference Service.
  • make a difference in the lives of library customers who have chosen AskUsNow! as their comfortable, convenient, and preferred way to get help from a librarian.

Maryland residents, students in Maryland schools and institutions, and people outside of Maryland who find the service, ask questions anonymously or by identifying themselves with email addresses, with or without a library card, to get quick or in-depth, reference and information help in online conversations.  Maryland librarians, or librarians from other states and countries who back up the service, provide the reference and information help.  Customers may receive referrals to services related to their questions.  The customers may also get more reference and information help from a local librarian or subject specialist by email.  Let's chat at www.askusnow.info.   


To participate as an AskUsNow! volunteer, an individual must:

  • think "people first:"  help chat customers as best as possible on their reference and information needs, and be open to collaborating with library colleagues to make the customer experience better.      
  • do what current AskUsNow! chat librarians (who provide AskUsNow! as one of the many librarian hats they wear) do:  complete the Maryland AskUsNow! New Staff Training:  http://askusnow.info/staff/training/newstaff.  This training will be customized if work and related obligations prevent you from attending the in-person (Part II) portion of the training.  
  • treat the volunteer experience like a job:  this simply means not having your other employment, personal, and familial obligations interfere with the commitment.
  • commit to one chat hour/week during six months of volunteer time, with the first month being a probationary time.


Volunteers are expected to:

  • hold themselves accountable for their chat hours, and interactions with customers and libraries from in and out of Maryland.
  • cover for AskUsNow! colleagues, when available.
  • ask questions, or comment, on their chat experiences with the Statewide Coordinator of Maryland AskUsNow! and/or the AskUsNow! community. 
  • apply virtual reference behaviors, communication strategies, and software to great use.
  • have access to a desktop, laptop, or portable device with internet access.


Prospective volunteers must complete and send to the Statewide Coordinator: 


To learn more about Maryland AskUsNow, try out chat at www.askusnow.info or get more in-depth information about the service at http://askusnow.info/staff/


Interested in volunteering?  Besides sending the application, background check form, and resume to the Statewide Coordinator, please contact Paul Chasen, Statewide Coordinator of Maryland AskUsNow!, directly at pchasen@prattlibrary.org or 443-984-4955.


Revised and Updated on April 27, 2018