Released February 26, 2003

‘VIRTUAL LIBRARIAN' NEW RESEARCH AIDE AT SOUTHERN MISS
By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - Even if you're conducting research through Southern Miss libraries via the Internet, a "live" librarian at the university will still be at your service.

Southern Miss libraries now have a "real-time" chat reference service, allowing Internet users to "talk" with a librarian as they search a library database, the online library catalog known as Anna or other Internet sources.

"With heavy use of electronic resources, library users don't always know the best tool for the material they are seeking," said Kay Wall, associate dean of libraries. "By implementing online chat reference, all Southern Miss faculty, staff and students – regardless of location – may ask a librarian to assist them with research online."

The new chat service is also a convenient way to receive answers to questions about e-reserves, interlibrary loan, library hours and article delivery services. Users can also have transcripts of the sessions e-mailed back to them for reference.

Wall said Southern Miss is the first public university library in the state to use the service.

"The chat reference service could prove to be an invaluable resource during those certain times of need when a professional librarian's skills can help you overcome a referential dead end," said Robby Nowell, a senior majoring in geology who has used the new research tool. "The service is also a benefit to the nontraditional student where long commutes or long-distance phone calls are not a viable option."

For off-campus access, Internet service and a Southern Miss identification card is required. Go to the library Web site at www.lib.usm.edu, click on the "Chat with Librarian" link under the heading "Library Links." Then follow instructions for software download. At that point, you will be asked to enter your 10-digit identification number from your ID card and from there, the "Ask A Librarian" call button will appear on the upper right-hand corner of each library page accessed.

Current hours for live reference are 2-9 p.m. on Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except for university holidays and semester breaks. For more information, contact Southern Miss Library Information Services at (601) 266-4249 or on the Internet at AskUs@lib.usm.edu.

 

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July 9, 2003 11:10 AM

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