DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 11 August 2004—OCLC and the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System have agreed to combine QuestionPoint and 24/7 Reference to create a more powerful suite of virtual reference tools that brings together the best features of both services. The agreement for OCLC to acquire the assets of the 24/7 Reference service was signed Aug. 10.
QuestionPoint, developed by OCLC and the Library of Congress, is a virtual reference service and knowledge resource supported by a global network of cooperating libraries and librarians, as well as an infrastructure of software and communications tools. QuestionPoint is used in more than 1,000 libraries in 20 countries. Its searchable, global Knowledge Base has grown to more than 7,000 active question-and-answer pairs.
24/7 Reference is a round-the-clock reference cooperative and service that allows library patrons to ask questions and get answers from qualified reference staff in real time on the Internet. Developed by the Metropolitan Cooperative Library System in Southern California, 24/7 Reference now serves some 500 libraries.
Both QuestionPoint and 24/7 Reference libraries will continue to receive service under terms of their current contracts.
“We are very excited about this opportunity to consolidate two leading virtual reference services in the library community,” said George Needham, Vice President, OCLC Member Services. “The integration of the QuestionPoint and 24/7 Reference cooperatives will enable us to offer a fuller suite of virtual reference services, adding value for all cooperative members.”
The combined services will build on the unique benefits and features of each service—such as reference management and the Global Reference Network offered by QuestionPoint, and the cooperative reference coverage of 24/7 Reference.
Virtual reference offers another opportunity for OCLC to raise the visibility of libraries—and librarians—on the Web. Combining these two services makes possible the larger collaborative effort necessary for libraries to offer their patrons service on demand 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“OCLC's support will allow for the continued growth of 24/7 virtual reference service,” said Barbara S. Custen, Executive Director, Metropolitan Cooperative Library System. “Combining 24/7 Reference with QuestionPoint will produce a stronger, more dynamic and responsive virtual reference service for current and future users of both services.”
Susan McGlamery, 24/7 Reference Project Director, and Carol Bonnefil, 24/7 Reference Client Support Specialist, will join OCLC Cooperative Initiatives. All 24/7 Reference staff will continue to work on the project.
An advisory committee, co-chaired by a QuestionPoint user and a 24/7 Reference user, is being formed to gather information and ideas from users of both services to help ensure a smooth transition. The committee's recommendations will help determine the features and functionality of the combined services.
Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit organization that has provided computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing and preservation services to 50,000 libraries in 84 countries and territories. For more information, visit www.oclc.org.
The Metropolitan Cooperative Library System is an association of 32 independent city and special district public libraries located in the greater Los Angeles area that have agreed to cooperate in providing library service to the residents of all participating jurisdictions. MCLS provides member libraries a resource-sharing network and a means for enhancing the level and diversity of resources available to library users, while reducing duplication of effort.