BGSU Takes the Lead in Statewide Digital Reference Service

Kelly Broughton, Coordinator, Reference Services

Last fall, BGSU librarians Kelly Broughton and Carol Singer, working with OhioLINK staff, earned a Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) grant of $64,000 to implement a statewide live, digital, reference service for Ohio’s college students, faculty, and researchers. Like the BGSU Libraries’ “Chat with a Librarian” service, this service, with the click of a button, offers the assistance of a librarian to students who need help searching an OhioLINK database such as Periodical Abstracts. When they connect, they will be greeted by a librarian from an OhioLINK affiliated library who will answer their inquiry.

The statewide pilot project will be beta tested this spring at eight institutions including BGSU, Miami University, NEOUCOM, The Ohio State University, Sinclair Community College, University of Dayton, University of Toledo, and Wittenberg University. The service will be available to all library users associated with these schools and will be staffed by librarians from the eight schools. It is anticipated that the service will go statewide and involve librarians and library users from all of the OhioLINK institutions in fall 2002. This new statewide initiative will benefit BGSU’s Libraries and Learning Resources in two significant ways. First, it will considerably reduce the cost of the software, and second, the demand for digital reference service will be shared by librarians across the state. While digital reference service is not new, OhioLINK will offer the largest cooperative academic reference service of its kind.