PaLA Ask Here PA Program:
Tweet-en the Deal! Going Social for Engaging Library Services.
PaLA Annual Conference, Lancaster, PA

Eric Zino, Member Representative, LYRASIS

Zino provided an overview of the Social Networking landscape for libraries.

He began by providing a few examples of what libraries are doing with Twitter. One was the Enoch Pratt Library job service and the other was the Connecticut State Library seasonal and historical news tweets.

Zino noted that many libraries use Facebook to create pages other FB users can like that include the usual library information such as hours, programming events, etc., but said that some were creating specific FB pages to inform and inspire people to take action. For example, the LSU LIS program was/is in jeopardy and a FB page was created to inspire alumni to take action.

Mobile sites are becoming more common. West Virginia University launched their mobile site in August - it is a clean interface providing core services.

Sigrid Kelsey and Angela K. VandenBroek of Louisiana State University won an ACRL Innovation Award for use of Delicious to develop academic research guides.

Slideshare is commonly used to share presentations.

A great example is the Cape May County "tell us your story" promotion that ended up with a video that told a powerful and poignant story about library services.

Andrea Zimmerman, Chief, Parkway Central, Free Library of Philadelphia

FLP provides Ask services on their front page. This can be viewed in the orange box at

FLP provides texting using Mosio's Text a Librarian product. It started as a pilot via Ask Here PA and the Free Library decided to continue after the pilot ended. They are happy with the product and usage is growing. Staff like that they are able to respond to text questions via the web. One of the challenges has been developing policies and procedures as they go.

All staff are encouraged to blog. Typically they'll blog about interesting articles in the paper. They have a system where they can blog and editorial staff review and approve the blog before it is posted live. Blog posts can be anything such as booklists for children, information on our special collections or events.

FLP uses Twitter and Facebook
Their goal is to create a space for conversation. For example, they want to tweet information that others will retweet. #phillyreads is one example. They are also conscious not to post the same thing to all their outlets so that there is not duplication.

Branches and departments are encouraged to have their own facebook, twitter and other social networking outlets.

They do have a YouTube page, though it is not heavily populated yet.

A mobile site is available.

John Euliano, Resource Sharing Librarian, Duquesne University

Euliano said that Duquesne focuses on three forms of virtual reference; chat, texting and e-mail reference. They also have a newly launched mobile site. (Available directly from the URL

Duquesne recently consolidated all of their virtual reference points together within the QuestionPoint software provided by Ask Here PA. They were previously using Altarama's VRLplus for e-mail reference but saved the funds they were paying for that by utilizing the freely available e-mail reference management form already available within QP from Ask Here PA.

They use Mosio's Text a Librarian service to provide texting. This product works seamlessly with QuestionPoint, so they now have the ability to staff live chat, texting and e-mail reference all from QuestionPoint. All their statistics are automatically tabulated and reference transactions saved for review.

Euliano pointed out that one fantastic advantage of consolidating all of these points together under QuestionPoint was that it was seamless to their patrons.

Ask Here PA
Euliano said that their students love using Ask Here PA and believe word of the service has spread very nicely via word of mouth by their users. They also like that it is 24/7 and that it is better that someone helps the patron at 11pm than no one at all. They also enjoy the variety of questions and users they receive when staffing the service.

Mobile site
Euliano noted that the mobile site is not device specific and that around 25 vendor databases were optimized for mobile and that this number continues to grow.

Please see the Duquesne library Ask page at

Ann Bruner, Reference Department Manager, Dauphin County Library System

DCLS has a FB presence for about 9 months and has 300-400 friends.

They provide text reference service. Text questions go directly to their reference e-mail. Bruner actually opened the session by asking two volunteers to submit a text question and then the result of those interactions were discussed. Both tests were very satisfied with the service they received. Bruner pointed out that her staff had a heads-up that questions might be coming in and said that they are still working this into their workflow and that responses from staff weren't always as timely as they would like them to be. Users noted that the initial auto response that the text message was received was disappointing as they initially thought that was their answers arriving already. Bruner said that they are not worried about usage at this point, since there is no cost associated with the service. But they are working on further marketing to promote text reference with populations that might use it.

Ask Here PA
Bruner said that they have been participating in Ask Here PA since the beginning and have been very satisfied with their participation both in their efforts providing service and the service provided by others to their patrons.

Bruner closed by noting that libraries are all in it together and collaboration/cooperation and the excellent diversity and quality of services provided, reflects on all libraries.