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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Feb. 11, 2003

New Service Brings UI Libraries Reference Help to Every Iowan

Iowans across the state will soon have access to on-line help from professional research librarians to find reference materials on the World Wide Web through a new service offered by the University of Iowa Libraries.

Called Live Reference, the new service allows anyone with access to the UI Web Site to get help with research and reference questions, assistance in finding and using electronic journals and databases, and support in locating information on the Web and in UI's Info Hawk, the Libraries online information system.

"Live Reference is a part of our ongoing commitment to expanding our reference services to users accessing the Libraries from remote sites," said Janice Simmons-Welburn, director for UI Libraries central public services and facilities.

By simply clicking the Live Reference button found on the UI Libraries' home page, users will open a frame on the right hand side of their screens in the browse message, allowing them to chat and collaboratively browse other Web sites and Web-accessible databases in real-time interaction with library staff.

"It's like talking in a chat room; it's that simple," Simmons-Welburn explained.

Staff from the main library reference desk, government publications, and distance education departments, and the Pomerantz Business Library will provide primary coverage for the service. If queries are beyond the scope of these departments, referrals will be made to another one of the Libraries' departments, an appropriate branch library, or to a subject specialist.

UI faculty, students and staff can also have documents and articles emailed to them. However, due to license agreements, this service will not be available to users who are not affiliated with the university. Instead, those clients will be given citations to assist them in obtaining the article through interlibrary loan.

The service is currently available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, an experimental cooperative agreement with the University of New Castle in Australia will expand the service's hours this summer. Taking advantage of the time difference, questions asked after 5 p.m. by users in Iowa will be directed to librarians at the University of New Castle; likewise, UI librarians will handle after-hours requests from Australia users between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in Iowa.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,