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by Norma A. Schmidt
(Reference Librarian)

Maryland AskUsNow! is an online virtual library reference service that provides answers to questions, assistance in navigating the Internet, and research guidance. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Library customers receive quality online information and expert guidance by communicating with a live professional librarian via Internet chat. Students and staff at Prince George’s Community College access AskUsNow! by clicking on the AskUsNow! icon found on the Library Web Site’s home page,, or by selecting “AskUsNow” from the Library Web site’s pull-down menu.

Maryland AskUsNow! is a free service. It is staffed by experienced professional librarians at public, academic, and special libraries. Maryland AskUsNow! partners with 24/7 Reference, a nationwide consortium of libraries. Therefore, in most instances, the librarian who responds to a request entered at the Prince George’s Community College Library Web site will actually be located at another institution.

Upon concluding a reference session, the library customer is provided with a list of URLs for the wWeb pages that the librarian sent to the customer’s browser. If the library customer chooses to provide an email address, a transcript of the session is forwarded. If, after 20-25 minutes online, the AskUsNow! librarian determines that extended research is necessary to answer a question, the library customer will be asked if an answer may be emailed within three days.

Maryland AskUsNow! is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, LSTA grant funds, through the Division of Library Development & Services, Maryland Department of Education. Prince George's Community College librarians who currently participate in providing AskUsNow! online service include John Bartles, Jean McEvoy, Norma Schmidt, Janet Sims-Wood, and Priscilla Thompson.


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 20, No. 2 

Spring 2005