September 30, 2008

SC State Library Ask Leo IM Service - video/article WLTX.Com

Columbia (WLTX) -- A place many people head to during tough economic times is keeping up with technology.

It's a free destination that some may think of as stuffy or outdated.

The State Library is often a leader among government organizations in the way of technological communication, and it is trying to keep up with a younger, technology-savvy generation.

When getting information from a librarian at the State Library reference desk, things have come quite a long way from card catalogs.

Director of Communications, Curtis Rogers, says the latest addition, the Meebo program, keeps the library at the head of the curve for state agencies.

"People on the other end don't need to download anything. You just go to the State Library's website and there's the chat box right there," he explains.

The new service is called AskLeo, named after the two big lion statues that stand out front of the library. The statues are named Edgar and Sol.

With a few clicks and key strokes on AskLeo, your questions are instantly shuttled to a librarian at the reference desk.

"If it's a quick and easy question that we consider a ready reference question, then it's something that we can quickly answer."

Rogers says some users can even sidle up to a reference desk from almost anywhere using AskLeo.

"If they have a web-based cell phone and they can get to their chat, they could be somewhere off campus even and just easily ask the library."

While some think technology like this could eventually do away with a library altogether, Rogers believes it's the opposite.

"A lot of people think that maybe because of Google, the library is going to go away, but it's really that there's just so much information out there that the librarian is an expert searcher."

The State Library houses everything from books that may be of interest to state employees, to newspapers from major markets, to audiovisual training materials.

Other interesting online applications that became available more recently have bene DISCUS, the South Carolina virtual library, and SchoolRooms, which is a homework help aid for students, parents and teachers.

The instant messenger chat service is available during regular hours. If you wish to ask a question during non-business hours, it will be answered when a librarian arrives during normal hours.

Visit to use AskLeo.

Posted By: Ashleigh Walters 9/29/2008 6:38:24 AM

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