Minitex is delighted to announce the release of our FY08 - 09 report on AskMN: The Librarian Is In!, Minnesota's statewide digital reference service. AskMN is funded by Minitex with appropriations from the Minnesota Legislature and is staffed by participating libraries and Minitex.
The report summarizes who is asking questions, who is answering them, what time of day questions are being asked, the reach of our libraries to Minnesota residents, and how satisfied patrons were with AskMN: The Librarian Is In!
Participating public libraries include: Dakota County Library, Hennepin County Library, Rochester Public Library, St. Paul Public Library, and Washington County Library. Lake Agassiz Regional Library joined in the beginning of FY10 (July 2009). Academic libraries participating in the service are: St. Catherine University, Joint Libraries of the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Macalester College, Minnesota State University, Mankato, St. Cloud State University, University of Minnesota - Duluth, and University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Minitex Reference Services staff provide administrative and reference support.
Our inaugural 15 months have been a huge success! Director Patricia Conley says, "Washington County Library is one of five public libraries in the State participating in the QuestionPoint consortium. Being part of a consortium allows our customers 24/7 online reference, a service we would likely not be able to afford independently. Our pioneering virtual librarians answer hundreds of questions from across the nation. In reviewing the transcripts, I am continually impressed with their expertise and professionalism. AskMn is just another example of how partnerships benefit customers. Washington County Board members are especially supportive of providing library services in this progressive, convenient and cost-effective way." And, a recent user expressed appreciation for AskMN, "I have used this service a few times in the last few days, and my daughter is using it daily. I am hooked! Thanks for such an important service and doing such an incredible job providing wonderful resources." From a user-satisfaction survey, this sentiment is shared by 89% of AskMN users.
8109 questions were received and answered between April 2008 - June 2009. 64% (5184) were from Minnesota patrons, and 36% (2925) were questions received from non-Minnesota patrons that Minnesota library staff answered for the QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference Cooperative. The 24/7 coverage provided by the AskMN service benefits Minnesota patrons at their point and time of need, giving them access to reference services when their libraries are typically closed.
In the words of Pat Conley, "our pioneering virtual librarians" are providing a much needed, much appreciated service to Minnesota citizens. The collaboration among Minnesota libraries and the global library community is a success. To view the full report, go to http://www.minitex.umn.edu/reference/askmn.pdf.