Collins Memorial Library

24/7 Virtual Reference Service

Ask a Librarian 24/7 logo It's 2:30 in the morning, a paper is due in six hours and the library is closed. Up until now, the typical student response might be to hop on the internet in the hopes of finding enough credible resources. Puget Sound students can now get research help from a live librarian in a virtual chat forum any hour of the day or night, with confidence that the information provided will be credible, accurate, and objective.

Collins Library has joined the Washington State Virtual Reference Cooperative, which is a part of a national network of collaborating libraries providing a 24/7 web-based information service. The cooperative, which is subsidized and coordinated through the Washington State Library, presently includes 50 libraries serving over 4 million patrons and 200,000 students.

The cooperative provides ADA-compliant software that requires only an internet connection and an up-to-date browser to access librarians 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Puget Sound librarians will contribute their time and expertise each week, helping to monitor the network at the local, state and national levels. In exchange, questions from our library users will be answered by professional librarians from across the country when Washington librarians are unavailable.

The in-person research consultations that have been well-established in the Puget Sound library may still be the best way to get help with in-depth research and senior thesis topics, but the new service will provide an additional forum for helping those users just starting their research or needing specific resources from the web. And the service will always be there for those late-night research paper emergencies.