|Weekly News Digest
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AskColorado Goes Live With InstantService
Colorado's statewide virtual reference cooperative, AskColorado (www.askcolorado.org), debuted its revamped service using new software from InstantService, a Seattle-based company that provides integrated chat, email, and knowledgebase solutions to businesses and call centers. In addition to serving some well-known companies across a range of industries, InstantService is also used by Florida's Ask a Librarian virtual reference service.
In addition to traditional chat, the software also gives the librarians the ability to instant message one another, send messages to all librarians online, send email to patrons and themselves, and more. InstantService has also announced plans to integrate SMS/text communication into its suite of offerings this spring. AskColorado's website has been newly restyled, now using SmartButton technology that assures patrons that librarians are online and standing by to take questions.
In addition to the software, another major change has been the expansion of AskColorado's academic queue into a multistate cooperative and the rebranding under the name AskAcademic (www.askacademic.org). Starting as a pilot project in December 2008 between AskColorado and the University of North Texas Libraries, AskColorado is now officially accepting academic partners from outside the state of Colorado and is pleased to announce that the Community College of Austin has recently agreed to join the cooperative.
AskColorado is one of the first statewide, multilibrary-type virtual reference services in the county. Offering uninterrupted 24/7 chat reference service since Sept. 2, 2003, AskColorado librarians have fielded more than 215,000 sessions with patrons. Residents from every county in Colorado have logged in, with about 25% of those questions coming from rural areas.
The AskColorado and AskAcademic services operate on a model similar to public radio: They are member and grant supported. Libraries throughout Colorado of every type-public, academic, school, and specialized libraries, as well as Texas academic libraries, contribute money to pay for the software and 24/7 service. Participating libraries also provide the staff to work online with Colorado residents and Colorado and Texas college students.
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