In 2013, Ask Us 24/7 celebrates 10 years of service. From now through September, we'll be highlighting the history of the service in a series of blog posts. Let's look at how the numbers stack up.
When Ask Us 24/7 began in 2003, we had seven libraries staffing the virtual reference desk. The project was entirely run by WNYLRC. Now we have:
8 public library systems
43 academic libraries
one school library system
4 other NY3Rs councils that have joined, thereby handling the billing for their member libraries and helping to promote the service in their region.
For the first year for which we have full statistics, there were just over 3000 transactions in Ask Us 24/7, meaning, either the patron or the librarian was from an Ask Us 24/7 library. Since this is a cooperative service, we often answer questions for patrons in other states and our patrons are often helped by librarians in other states when our own librarians are unavailable.
Since then, the number of total Ask Us 24/7 transactions has continued to grow every year. This is not only due to the number of new libraries joining but also due to increased awareness of the service due to WNYLRC's marketing efforts and the efforts of our participating libraries. Check out our annual stats by year:
As of December 31, 2012, Ask Us 24/7 has had a total of 173,869 chats since it began. Thank you to our participating libraries for helping us reach these great numbers!
WNYLRC Emerging Technologies Librarian