Ask a Librarian is administered by the Tampa Bay Library Consortium, and provides Florida residents with virtual reference services through live chat and text messaging from 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday (ET), and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday (ET).

Participating libraries may also utilize the software to provide local live virtual reference services to their patrons.

E-mail is available to patrons 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and all e-mail is answered by the user’s local library.  Participating libraries can choose to utilize the email management system available through the Ask a Librarian platform, which offers customized local email forms, new mail notifications, and statistics management, or to utilize their own email management system through a page on that library’s site.

The service consists of three primary features:

  1. Live chat service that provides reference statewide and to local patrons. The software features live chat capabilities which allow you to push web pages to your user’s window
  2. SMS Text Messaging for statewide patrons, with a unique keyword assigned to each library system.
  3. E-mail management system available, including new mail autonotifications and reports.

Ask a Librarian began as a partnership between the College Center for Library Automation (CCLA) and the Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC). Ask a Librarian was funded initially in 2002-2003 with LSTA funds as a pilot project of the Florida Electronic Library. The service was activated on July 28, 2003 and has continued to serve residents across the state of Florida. Ask a Librarian has evolved into a vital core service of many Florida libraries.

Interested in joining?

For more information or to become a participating library, please contact Member Services Coordinator Jessica Riggins at rigginsj@tblc.org.