Friday, August 9, 2013

Ask A Librarian. You Know You Want To...

The Ask A Librarian service in the state of Florida just turned 10 years old this year.

You ask, "Gee what is Ask A Librarian" and I tell you it's an online chat service where you login for free, ask a question about a current problem or research itch to resolve, and viola a librarian will magically appear within your computer and grant you three wishes find out the answers to the questions you've got as well as provide citations and links to supporting materials.

It's helpful for times that the libraries may be closed: physical libraries can close between 5 pm to 8 pm in the evenings: AAL stays on until 9 pm for general, some universities stay on until 11 pm.  Or you may be stuck at home or at work when the question comes to you and you need an answer for it.

I know some of you are saying "but gosh, you can just Google it anymore or heck even go to Wikipedia for the answers," and I'll note that's partially true: however, not everything on the Internet is accurate, informed, or itself researched to any degree of academic criteria (ESPECIALLY don't believe anything you read in the Comments section of a blog entry).  Wiki may be a decent summation/encyclopedic site, but it's still dependent on editing by persons not always certified or qualified to make the entries you find, and may not go into the detail that some people - especially college students - require.

Librarians are providers of information: we are the sorters and sifters and the hunter/gatherers of raw data roaming the information savanna.  You might be able to Google, but you may not use the right search terms, or you may go for the first hit that appears without recognizing you're clicking an ad site and not a research site.  Librarians know what we're looking for: we ask you the Interview Process to whittle down what you are and aren't looking for in order to a) find the right book, b) find the right link, c) find the right answer.

So please, support your library and give the Ask A Librarian service with your local library (it may be under different names, but the service should be the same) a try.


  1. Don't just ask any librarian..ask Paul...I went to high school with him and can vouch...sorry I missed our 25th...busy teaching in Asia
    Chris R.
    Any librarian will do, though Paul is one of the smartest people I have come across in my 43 years on this rock. PS long time no see...1988 Geez!

  2. How's it going? You liking it over there?

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I'm not that smart. I only graduated 28th in the class...