Enquire is a virtual reference service, staffed by participating libraries, providing trustworthy, real-time, one-to-one assistance from professional librarians in the UK and US, available whenever your citizens need help: 24 hours a day, every day.
Do you want to offer a 24/7 enquiry service?
Enquire is an example of libraries working together to help users at their point of need. One of three People's Network services originally commissioned by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), Enquire delivers live assistance to information seekers via internet chat. Run by libraries in partnership with OCLC, the service gives public library users access to a cooperative network of librarians who answer questions at any time of the day or night. Currently, anyone can use the Enquire service by accessing via www.peoplesnetwork.gov.uk.
A web-based reference service allows libraries to go where users are, whether on the library website or in popular sites like Yahoo! Answers. In 2008, Enquire became a Knowledge Partner of Yahoo! Answers (UK & Ireland), directly engaging with users in this web community who appreciate the high quality answers they receive from librarians.
Best value through collaboration
During 2010, Enquire expects to answer in excess of 25,000 questions, a level of service no individual library could hope to achieve on its own, especially considering current financial pressures within local government.
Considerable efficiencies can be realised through collaboration. Resource and budget efficiencies are achieved through Enquire's participation in the 24/7 Reference Cooperative. The Cooperative is an international, around the clock reference service. This means that your users will benefit from reference assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no additional investment in staffing or technology required on your part.
As the service is supported by 1,400 libraries worldwide, there is always someone on hand to answer your user's questions in the hours where your library staff are not available. The resulting economies of scale mean that for an average resource commitment of just one half-day shift every fortnight (equating to 13 days per annum) your users have access to an information professional 365 days a year.
Enquire is available under a model licence within the MLA's Reference Online Framework Agreement.
Kevin Crompton, Chief Executive, Luton Borough Council