Dang, those Ohio people are kicking butt again. Exhibit A: KnowItNow.
“KnowItNow is a live online information service provided free of
charge for the citizens of Ohio by the State Library of Ohio and your
local public library. Professional librarians are available 24 hours a
day, seven days a week to answer your reference questions and assist
you in finding information….
Librarians around the state staff the KnowItNow service. During
regular library hours staff working in Ohios public libraries (click
here to learn if your local library participates) monitor the service
and respond to your questions. After hours, the KnowItNow After Dark
team of professional librarians provides high quality information
service even in the 'wee hours' of the morning. Online tutors are also
available and ready to assist students with homework from 2 p.m. to 10
p.m. seven days a week.
KnowItNow is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. General
Reference assistance is available during all hours. Specialists in the
subjects of business, foreign languages, genealogy, government
information, health, history, law, literature, music and art, science,
technology and the social sciences are available from 9:00 am to 5:30
pm Monday – Saturday. Questions in these specialties may be asked
anytime but may be referred to specialists for next day response.
Tutoring service from online professional tutors is available from 2
p.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Some questions may be referred to
the online tutors during this time.”
I learned about this service earlier today when I talked with Brad Stephens from the NOLA Regional Library System in Ohio. We partner with Brad and NOLA for ListenIllinois
(by the way, the third enrollment period is open now!), and I'm always
intrigued to hear what he's up to. He and his staff have been central
to getting this service up and running, and what a service it is.
Brad was justifiably proud to tell me KnowItNow has contracted with
62 librarians who basically telecommute to cover all of those 24/7
hours. They're the first such service to keep all of the hours in-house
(so-to-speak) and not outsource them. They estimate they're going to
handle 10,000-12,000 questions per month, which will make a
great success story. It's heartening to see such cohesive, well-done
statewide efforts such as this one, although it's a sad reminder of how
splintered online reference has become in Illinois.
I also like how KnowItNow is the third piece of a trifecta that includes HomeworkNow (homework help) and ReadThisNow
(reader's advisory). All of the sites are nicely done, too – attractive
and useful. Big-time congratulations to everyone involved! [The Shifted Librarian]