August 27, 2003 — 1 a.m. Wednesday. You have a presentation due for your 8:00 a.m. class but you need to verify a citation. Who said, “Think, think, think.”? You search Google and Yahoo. No luck. Aha! You go to the Marriott Library home page and click on the LIVE CHAT icon, then connect to the Online Reference Desk. You chat directly online with a reference librarian who confirms the source of your quote. It was Winnie the Pooh. You meet your deadline. Life is good.
Begun in the Fall of 2001, LIVE CHAT allows students, faculty, and staff to ask questions online and get answers online in real-time from reference librarians at academic libraries from across the nation. As part of an expanded service contract through the Utah Academic Library Consortium, the service is now available 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year.
“With so many of the library’s resources now available online and accessible remotely at all hours of the day, we felt it important to offer reference support for those products at all hours of the day,” explains Leslie Haas, Head of Reference at the Marriott Library, “The Live Chat program allows us to assist students through real-time, interactive online sessions, just as though the person were standing right in front of the reference desk. We can walk students through their search strategies, “push” (send) materials to them via computer, and answer general reference questions related to collections and library services.”
“By pooling our people resources with several other libraries across the nation (32 libraries to be exact), we are able to offer this wonderful service to our students at a very reasonable annual cost,” comments Library Director Sarah Michalak, “LIVE CHAT is one example of how we strive to offer the best in technology while maintaining the human touch through customer service.”
Topics such as how to use the Library’s catalog, where to begin your research, or how to connect from off campus are examples of what can be answered by online librarians (in addition to sources of quotes…)
To “chat” with a librarian online, simply click on the LIVE CHAT icon on the Marriott’s home page: http://www.lib.utah.edu.
Want to know more about this service? Contact Marriott Library Reference Head Leslie Haas at 585-9190.