HARRISBURG PA – A live, online reference service hosted by the state’s library system during the past two years has become the fastest growing service of its kind in the nation, according to Pennsylvania’s education secretary.
“Ask Here PA,” as the service is known, provides students and citizens the opportunity to ask questions and receive research assistance in real time. Librarians use live chat, along with the ability to guide users on the Web by sharing resources found on the Internet and in databases.
Free to all Pennsylvania residents, Ask Here PA differs from other online resources because it offers information that is verified by a commonwealth librarian, and provides answers to questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “Ask Here PA” librarians have conducted more than 125,000 sessions since its launch in September 2006.
More than 70 libraries contribute staff time to answer the inquiries of Pennsylvania citizens. Participating libraries closest to Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township are the Montgomery County Library in Norristown PA, the Upper Merion Township Library in King of Prussia PA, and the Chester County Library in Exton PA.
About two-thirds of Ask Here PA users are Pennsylvania students in grades K-12.
“It is exciting to know that our library services have evolved with technology,” Secretary Gerald Zahorchak said. Pennsylvania’s libraries, he added, “serve as essential tools and resources for our students, and are a great support and extension of our academic system.”