February 10th, 2005
WVU Libraries are among 31 institutions across the nation participating in a pilot program to provide virtual reference services to people seeking government information.
The Government Information Online service allows researchers to go online and ask questions or seek information about state and federal government. Patrons access the service through a link on the WVU Libraries webpage http://www.libraries.wvu.edu or directly at http://govtinfo.org. From this site, users can e-mail a question or engage in a real-time chat session with a librarian.
“More and more citizens are seeking information about government programs, services and policies, and this virtual reference service makes it easy for Internet users to get that information quickly from qualified reference specialists all over America,” said Penny Pugh, head reference librarian at the Downtown Campus Library.
“While researchers can continue to visit the WVU Libraries in person to obtain such information, I am pleased that those with Internet access can use this exciting new service to pose questions directly to government information specialists,” she added.
Pugh is coordinating a team of librarians from WVU that includes Christine Chang, Kelly Diamond, Hilary Fredette and Barbara Lagodna. They share responsibilities with colleagues at the 30 other libraries to respond to e-mail inquires and answer questions in a chat format.
The site promises responses within 48 hours for e-mails. Immediate assistance, however, is available by chatting online with a government information librarian. The schedule is 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.
If the pilot program is successful, Pugh said that the library will consider becoming part of a permanent virtual government information reference service.
By: Monte Maxwell
Spirit, 02/10/05, p 6