Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Some exciting new developments

AskColorado offers 24/7 Spanish language reference service!

NEW YORK – September 22, 2003 – AskColorado, a virtual reference service coordinated by the Colorado State Library, launched a Spanish language version of the service today. Tutor.com’s Librarians by Request will provide complete coverage for the service. AskColorado allows Colorado residents to connect to a reference librarian over the Internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, using Tutor.com’s Virtual Reference ToolKit. The AskColorado service, launched on September 2, 2003, currently has 43 participating libraries including public, academic, school and special libraries. Staff from these libraries provide service cooperatively for all residents across the state. The first year of AskColorado is funded through a grant provided by the Colorado State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), in conjunction with funds and staffing from the participating libraries.



Colorado libraries provide virtual reference services through Virtual Reference ToolKit from Tutor.com to expand the availability and reach of library professionals 24/7. The service helps libraries work together to provide authoritative answers to reference questions. At least two librarians will be on duty at AskColorado during primary service hours, with experts at special libraries available to answer detailed, subject specific questions. Librarians and professionals from Tutor.com’s Librarians by Request will answer questions when Colorado libraries are unable to staff the service during late night hours. Librarians by Request reference staff will provide the AskColorado Spanish language service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A statewide committee, which was created to explore the issues related to providing digital reference, conducted a needs assessment in Fall 2002, and found that many people are going directly to the Web for information. Current library users as well as potential users are searching Internet resources and are becoming accustomed to information on demand at their fingertips whenever they want it. Librarians in the state decided that it was critical to establish a new service now to meet users on the Internet -- at all times of the day and night -- to provide assistance with their information needs, despite dramatic budget cuts in libraries at both the state and local level.



The AskColorado service is available at http://www.askcolorado.org. For more information on the service, contact Sharon Morris, AskColorado Coordinator, at askcolorado@cde.state.co.us.

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