Holland College | High tech meets high touch in new service
Home > News > 2003 > High tech meets high touch in new service

High tech meets high touch in new service

Islanders with questions now have a new resource to help them find answers.

Building on the foundations of islandlibraries.ca, a joint search portal launched as part of the Virtual Charlottetown's Smart Communities project, librarians at UPEI, Holland College and the Provincial Library Service have banded together to create IsleAsk, a new "virtual place" to ask questions.

The premise behind IsleAsk is simple: Islanders have many and varied information needs, and it's not always easy to know where to look to find answers. Librarians are experienced, trusted information brokers who regularly out-perform search services such as Google when it comes to delivering focused, personalized, and accurate information in a timely manner.

Enter IsleAsk, a new service that links questions with answers. Post a question to us, and we will use the collective resources and expertise housed in our local libraries to help you find answers. On receipt, your question will be analysed and routed to the most appropriate collection or librarian. You will receive a response within 24 hours. Naturally, some complicated questions may require more time and additional communication with reference staff. IsleAsk staff also caution that the service cannot be used for medical or legal advice (instead, clients will be referred to a more appropriate resource). Also, there should be no worries from teachers and parents that the service will replace students doing their own homework. "In a case like that," notes Provincial Librarian Allan Groen, "we'll lead you to the sources, but we won't write the report or draw the conclusions!"

"This is just a natural extension of the work we do in Island libraries every day --- in addition to face-to-face contact, we're now delivering it over the Internet" reflects Brenda Brady, chief librarian at Holland College. Colleague Lynne Murphy of UPEI's Robertson Library adds that behind-the-scenes library cooperation has always existed, but that projects such as IsleAsk simply formalize the collaborative relationship. "We're a small Island in a big ocean of information," said Murphy, "but we each have subject strengths in terms of collections and people. We're too small and information needs are too critical for us not to cooperate. It just makes sense."

To use IsleAsk, simply visit the islandlibraries website at http://www.islandlibraries.ca (or enter through the Education section of the Townsquare portal at http://www.townsquare.ca) and click on the IsleAsk icon at the top of the screen. Fill in the form with your name, email address and question, and click on the Submit button to send your query to the IsleAsk staff. We'll be in touch!

For more information about this release, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2003