Sheffield, UK, 29 September 2016—OCLC, the global library cooperative, and the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) today announced a new agreement for the provision of collaborative after-hours virtual reference services in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The agreement is based on the successful initial pilot and now, established service, run with The Northern Collaboration consortium of libraries.
"This agreement allows SCONUL members to deliver enquiry services virtually to their students at times when the library is not staffed," said Ann Rossiter, Executive Director, SCONUL. "We are delighted to be able to offer our members access to this service."
The service is provided by OCLC using its QuestionPoint software. QuestionPoint provides a complete virtual reference management system, integrating chat, e-mail, a reference knowledge base, reports and analytic tools to give a complete view of reference activity. This global community of reference professionals ensures member virtual reference services are staffed around the clock.
"Increasingly, students are coming to expect an ‘always-on' level of customer service," said, Andrew Hall, OCLC. "Participating libraries can expand services provision without the associated costs on increased staffing. OCLC are delighted to be able to facilitate this and build on the success of The Northern Collaboration pilot."
To date, 33 universities have signed up to use QuestionPoint as part of the SCONUL agreement. The group will be supported by the global QuestionPoint 24/7 reference cooperative, complemented by OCLC-employed 24/7 librarians.
More about the SCONUL virtual out-of-hours reference service is at www.sconul.ac.uk. More about QuestionPoint and the global 24/7 Reference Cooperative is at www.oclc.org/en-UK/questionpoint.html.
The Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) represents all university libraries in the UK and Ireland, irrespective of mission group, as well as national libraries and many of the UK's colleges of higher education.
SCONUL promotes awareness of the role of academic libraries in supporting research excellence and student achievement and employability, and represents their views and interests to government, regulators and other stakeholders. SCONUL also has a number of groups supporting the strategy and ensuring that the academic library community is informed about, and engaged with, the major issues and challenges facing the library sector.
OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC's WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world's collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff and partners make breakthroughs possible.